Happy New Year!
Here's the first blog post of 2022 from Rev. Andy Humm, Vicar at St George & St Paul, Tiverton
From my family to you and yours, may I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year!
2021 didn’t work out quite how we all expected, but as a church we have stepped up and changed and lived out God's calling for us here in our town of Tiverton.
I know for some of you, we didn’t go far enough or act quick enough in starting singing, not wearing masks or restarting groups & ministries. For others we let up too much and you didn’t feel comfortable coming back or safe being in the building. The responsibility I feel as your vicar to try and ensure each of you is safe and yet able to worship, is immense. The PCC, Staff Team and I, pray that somewhere in the mix of services and messages you were able to worship, pray and hear the voice of God.
As we look forward to 2022, I want us to dream dreams and focus on the reality of God through Jesus Christ in our lives.
I will write more shortly about our way forward and refocusing our vision on where God is calling us as His Church here in Tiverton.
Isaiah 58:11 has always been a verse that encourages me, challenges me and guides - 'The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.'
We are in the midst of some mild weather as I write this, although not quite ‘sun-scorched!’. We also know what rain looks like here in Devon, and I am sure the next few weeks will also see some changes in our weather.
'A sun-scorched land' is a descriptive picture not only used in the literal sense of actual physical heat and drought, but also as a picture of the spiritual condition of our land and of those hard times we go through in life. There are three promises from this verse that bring assurance of God’s care for us in these days, both literally and spiritually:
God’s Guidance: 'The Lord will guide you always.' He will guide us through the pleasurable circumstances of life and sustain us in the agonizing trials we must endure. Do not lose hope, God is with us always as we are encouraged again in the words of Psalm 48:14: 'For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.'
God’s Provision: 'He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.' Droughts bring about many hardships. The scorching sun has a way of sapping us of energy and giving us an unquenchable thirst. You may feel you are in the midst of a spiritual drought or at least feel your energy draining as we face perhaps another round of restrictions, yet we must never never lose sight of Jesus who will satisfy our needs as we continually look to Him. It’s during times like this that life may not work out as we had hoped or in the time frame we had expected, but ultimately our needs are met. Our genuine needs are determined by God, not us.
God’s Strength: 'He will … strengthen your frame.' I am grateful to have had some time off after Christmas which has been truly restful and we all need renewed strength. Elsewhere in the Bible, the apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers (and through the Bible for all of us) 'I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.' (Ephesians 3:16).
The verse ends like this 'You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.'
May you know God’s encouragement and strength today and his continual refreshing throughout 2022.
Rev Andy Humm