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Happy 2020 - A reflection to begin the new year...

Dear Table View Methodist Family,

I look forward to sharing communion with you on the first Sunday of next year, 5 January at 845am.  As we begin the year we will recommit ourselves to God by saying the Methodist Covenant Prayer:


I have been enjoying my garden this year.  We installed a well-point so we could water it and with soil, seeds, sunshine and water we grew some beautiful sunflowers.  To see the beauty in the details of God's creation is so helpful to our faith, the creator is an artist who didn't just form the world for us to exist in, but for us to enjoy.


I hope that December has presented a chance for you to rest and to be re-created in your recreation.  To take a moment to remember that you were created by a God who loves you and you were created for God's love.  The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is:
Q. What is the chief end of man?A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
The sunflower glorifies God because that is what it was created to do.  It can not choose to be anything but a sunflower its blossoming and following of the sun is written in its DNA.  We on the other hand have a choice.  We can surrender to God's purpose - or go our own ways.  Too often we go our own ways and we become less than we were meant to be.

When the people of Israel entered the promised land Joshua spoke to them in Joshua 24:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled... ” 
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Jos 24:14–17). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Table View Methodist Bible Story Window representing the crossing in to the promised land.



In verse 14 and 15 Joshua announces his intention to serve God and God alone.  The people make their own commitment.  A commitment to commit themselves completely to God.  Joshua promises that if they do this they will produce the beauty and the fruit that God has prepared them for.

As you enter in to 2020 have a look at these verses:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 
What do you want to / need to / leave behind in 2019?
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. 
Is serving the Lord 'desirable to you'?
What does that mean for your priorities in 2020?
- Time?- Money?- Church?- Work?- Family and Friends (Household)?
15 "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 
How will you set the example to your family of the way in which you serve the Lord?  Will you read scripture and pray?  Will you pray together as a family?  Will you set an example to your children of what it looks like to 'serve the Lord' in the way you treat yourself, others, your husband / wife and children?  In the way that you speak of others and of the Lord?
16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled... 
As you look back on 2019 I'm sure there were some difficult challenges; but how can you be thankful to God for the ways in which you have been spared?  Will you remember what God has done?

I have to admit that Joshua 24 does not end well.  The people make all these bold commitments to serving God but pretty soon they're serving other gods and forgetting their priorities.  We are the same.  That is why we head back to church every Sunday and ask God for a new beginning.  And God - knowing that we are dust; remembering that we are his children - lifts us up again and sets us back on the path toward truth and love.

He doesn't just set us on the path - it turns out that he plants in us a force; like the force that got the sunflower to grow out of the ground; the force that caused Jesus to rise from the dead - the force of the Holy Spirit - to help us on the way.

I'm trying to grow at least one watermelon.  I have only one so far on all my vines and it is about 1cm long:



To get it to grow I will keep watering it, I'll weed the ground around the stem and do my best to check for pests every day and keep them away.  The Watermelon wants to grow to be large and sweet; it has everything it needs.  The same with our lives in God - we have all the ingredients - all we need to do is surrender to his love and partner with him through the Holy Spirit as we grow to become the people we were created to be.

I wish you every blessing in 2020!