It’s Summertime; I wonder what you will enjoy: Wimbledon, the Yeovil Show, a barbecue, a trip to the sea, an ice cream, a wedding, a children’s Holiday Club … The Gershwins wrote:
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry
Yet in the midst of the many blessings of life, there is still much to cry about. This Summer we have wept and prayed for people affected by too many terrorist atrocities in Manchester and London, and the terrible Kensington fire. Many continue to be anxious about the stability of the Government, about Brexit, and Trump and Syria and North Korea … the list could go on.
What a mixed up world. Goodness and evil, joy and grief, hope and anxiety seem to live alongside each other. It is easy to let the bad news shake our faith in God. Do not get downhearted. Jesus himself celebrated at a wedding, feasted with friends, recognized the tremendous faith of many. But he also encountered evil spirits, hypocrisy, opposition, injustice and cruelty. He warned us to expect wars and disasters until the end, in this beautiful world made by his heavenly Father.
Whatever else you enjoy in the Summer, don’t forget to come to church. Here we can thank God and praise him for all that is good. Here we can acknowledge the tough things, the hard times, the needs of the world, and pray for God’s protection and strength. And here we can renew our faith in Jesus, who came to a suffering world, and bore its suffering in his own body on the cross. He came to a sinful world, and bore its sin in his own body on the cross. He came to a godless and loveless world and revealed God’s love to us on the cross.
And in that faith we have a full and sure conviction that good will ultimately win and evil will be eradicated. Now we must live with patience. But one day God will come afresh to live with his people. ‘They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:3-4).
For now we are called to live in this mixed up world, so enjoy the Summer if you can. But above all, hold on to Jesus Christ through whom all will be made new. He is our hope, our joy, our comfort, our life, our Lord.
With my best wishes – James.