“For surely I know the plans I have for you , says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
A very happy New Year to all in this community called the Baptist Union. Today’s newsletter comes at a time when some of the uproar and business of the recent holidays have subsided and some clearer thinking is being sought. I want to provide some food for personal reflection and formation as we start the New Year. You will recall in previous notes and on the Union’s website that there are video clips that introduce some patterns of daily reading and reflection. Today’s material puts some daily patterns and yearly perspectives together in one letter. Christ’s disciples asked him how to pray and this is what he gave them to say; (surprising how rarely many of our churches and in most of our lives we neglect his advice in this matter).
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.’ “
The best historic summary of doctrine and theology (at least doctrine and theology that is palatable in most of our churches) is the Apostles Creed. It was used at the founding meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in 1905 and repeated in the centenary celebration in 2005.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
I use both the Lord’s prayer the Apostles creed almost on a daily basis.
The context of starting each day in a good frame of heart and mind and in God is beautifully in C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. The title of this particular piece in this book is “The First Job Every Morning”.
The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes from the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect’, He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder – in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
C.S. Lewis, The First Job Every Morning, Mere Christianity, Bk IV, ch. 8
Our verse from Jeremiah at the beginning of this newsletter puts the larger promise of God to me so very well. “For surely I know the plans I have for you , says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
But my verse for the year: For myself, and for my sisters and brothers in Christ, and for the Baptist Union is.
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”(1Corinthians 2:9)
Even so may this be our experience Lord Jesus.
And a very happy New Year,
The week between Christmas and Epiphany 2006