Thoughts on Jeremiah 28 & 29 

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Elfed Godding: 03.02.21
(based on an article in IDEA magazine written by Roger Sutton, Director of Gather and Movement Day UK) 

How do we plot or course as churches in Wales and the rest of the UK during the Covid storm that rages around us? I believe that the choice we face is a very serious one. Should we as churches in Wales turn in on ourselves, protect what we have and plan for contraction or will we take a missional posture and press forward in trust to serve the village, town or city God has called us to?

Should we hear the sensible, realistic and obvious choice that it’s time to regroup and circle the wagons, waiting for the storm to pass by? Or will we listen to another more dangerous voice?

The people of Israel also had two choices to which they could respond in Jeremiah chapters 28 and 29. Hananiah spoke practically and rationally; it was time to preserve, insulate and protect, so he urged them to keep to themselves and pray the storm wouldn’t last long, see Jeremiah 28:2 onwards. However the prophet Jeremiah spoke a very different word. He urged them to serve, extend and grow even though the season was difficult.

Hananiah effectively said ‘God will bless you if you look after yourselves, if you stand firm you will be safely home from exile within two years, see Jeremiah 28:10-14. Jeremiah said ‘seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers you will prosper’ Jeremiah 29:7.

Can this mean that if we seek the peace and prosperity of Leeswood, Mold, Flint or Cardiff and see recovery and renewal then those of us who pray will also prosper? Can it really be better to give than to receive at this crisis point? To focus on mission rather than just our own needs?

The villages, towns and cities of Wales are in crisis and need to hear and see the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed and demonstrated. Our mission does not contract during a lockdown, it expands! We are entering the most difficult time in our nation since World War II. This is not a time to shy away from our mission. The call to mission in the New Testament was delivered to a weak, marginalised, persecuted and poor church. However with the Holy Spirit within them and some bravery and passion they began to turn their world upside down, see Acts 8:4-8.

The journey through the pandemic will not be an easy one, but we will be led into new levels of faith and prayer we have yet to discover. We may be in the storm and hiding at the bottom of the boat praying for it all to end, but there is a disturbing and even alarming voice coming from the sea: ‘Take courage! It is I, don’t be afraid …Come’ Matthew 14:22-33.

Let’s take time to pray for courage based on the words of Deuteronomy 31:6: ‘Lord God we pray for strength and courage. We will not be gripped by fear because you Lord go with us. You will never leave us or forsake us, you go before us. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen

Elfed Godding, 03/02/2021