Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:8

Published on: 4 May 2021

I had the privilege of leading the drive-in Songs of Praise at the Norfolk Showground

A joy to see people singing, if only in their physically-distanced cars. In the prayers, I chose to use the General Thanksgiving, a prayer written by the former Bishop of Norwich, Edward Reynolds (1599-1676). This prayer has been used for some 400 years through national emergencies, plague, warfare, times of joy and sadness in individual lives. It echoes Philippians 4.6,7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace comes when we concentrate our minds on being thankful to God for that for which we can be thankful. Only then our requests come, and the promise is that we will find our hearts and minds being relocated home – that is in Christ Jesus.

The modern song says, ‘In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song. This Cornerstone, this solid Ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.’

Your personal storm through this crisis may have been difficult. You may have seen loved ones die. Your mental health may have suffered. Yet… Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. This Jesus is with us bringing the eternal gospel hope of living in the Kingdom of God that starts now, here, today.

These eternal truths have held fast through many difficulties and the Church that Jesus promised to build has survived many a disaster over its 2000-year history.

As we emerge out of lockdown into the ‘new normal’ (dread words) our bit of Jesus Christ’s Church is going to have to adapt yet again. I say ‘yet again’ because our Church has always adapted. It has been far more flexible and fluid than we give it credit for.

A deployment group is looking at several issues which the Bishop’s Council and Diocesan Synod will consider. These cover such matters as what shape of ministry can we afford, where should our priorities lie, what do we do about the vast number of church buildings? All this within our priority: the mission of the Church given to us by Jesus, bringing the unchanging message of the Kingdom of God to a changing scenario. Amongst this is a reflection upon how we release the gifts of the whole people of God. Could we see an explosion of vocations in Lay Ministers (Readers), in Authorised Worship Assistants as well as more people responding to the call of ordination?

Every crisis brings new opportunities. The work being done in partnership with local communities has been breathtaking, as has the sharp growth of online worship keeping congregations together, reaching new people and discovering previous worshippers. The hard work in developing new Sunday patterns of worship has been imaginative and, in many places, unselfish.

Yes, there will be hard decisions ahead, but this is Christ’s Church and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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