January is often a time of year when we think about fresh beginnings. That’s a natural place to find ourselves at this time of year – especially in our climate, when the summer often brings holidays. There is sometimes a little more headspace and leisure, to think about the next step, the return to work, a plan for the year ahead…
The readings from the Bible which have been set for today, resonate with the idea of vocation, calling – and God’s call on our lives. However, when we read them very closely, we also discover that they speak to us about our understanding of ourselves – about who we are. Perhaps the implication is that we cannot properly understand our calling, until we understand who we are – who is the ‘me’ whom God is calling?
What is God’s call on your life? As one of today’s hymns says:
Will you love the ‘ you’ you hide, if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside, and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around?
Through my sight and touch and sound in you, and you in me?
How can we learn to love our hidden self? Only by the owning and using of God’s perceptions inside us, as we are in God. In this way, we can hope to re-shape the world, a little at a time.
At the end of the Gospel reading, from John, we read that Jesus spoke to Nathanael as though he had known him of old. Nathanael’s response was an immediate recognition that Jesus was the Son of God;
50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”
51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
I always think the “Son of Man” title is a little inaccurate. The work used in the Greek is “Anthropos”, which means “humanity”. There is a perfectly good word for “man” in Greek, (Andros) but this is not what is used in the original text.
It seems Jesus is making a distinction here, between Nathanael’s recognition of him as “Son of God”, and “King of Israel”, and the much more enigmatic title: “Son of Humanity”. Perhaps he is pointing out that, as a human being, he can be the link, or the ‘ladder’ between heaven and earth – God and humankind? Jesus is the means by which communication can happen. The angelic messengers of God ascend and descend upon him.
Whoever we are, wherever we are, no matter how private, or how shy, we are intimately known to God. When God calls us to follow Christ, we have a choice. Once we set out on the path, we learn along the way; but always keep in mind: it is you who were called, and God knew who you were beforehand.
God bless your week – Jennifer
Have a Smile!
EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW, I LEARNED FROM THE STORY OF NOAH AND THE ARK.
Don’t miss the boat.
- We are all in the same boat.
- Plan ahead.
- Don’t listen to the critics.
- Build for your future on high ground.
- For safety, go in pairs.
- When stressed, float for a while.
- Don’t worry about drowning: the Ark was built by an amateur, The Titanic by professionals.
- No matter how fierce the storm, when God is with you, there will be a rainbow in the end.
At our New Year’s Eve services, in my preaching, I quoted the following text. Several people have asked me to re-produce it.
The Gate of the Year – Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”
Spoken by George VI in his Christmas 1939 broadcast to the Empire these words struck a chord with a country facing the uncertainly of war. They were the preamble to an obscure poem, God Knows, written in 1908, but nobody was able to identify the poet. Finally at midnight on Boxing Day the BBC announced that the author was Minnie Louise Haskins, a retired academic.