Weekly Update - 8th January
Dear sisters and brothers
As we go into the New Year and pack away the Christmas things we also move on from the Nativity stories in the Bible. As you probably know, the Gospels say almost nothing at all about Jesus life between the ages of around two until he was thirty years old. Nothing except for one story from when he was 12 (Luke 2:41-52). The incident that Luke records took place during the Passover Festival: an annual festival when, we are told, Mary and Joseph always took Jesus up to Jerusalem. We can imagine it as being a little like our Christmas and New Year celebrations with their traditions and family rituals: they do change over time but remain at heart the same. This particular year was going to be different, however, as it ended with Jesus’ parents frantically searching for their lost son, only to find him sitting happily among the teachers in the temple courts. They are understandably angry with him for running off and causing them such distress. The young Jesus is almost dismissive as he tells them that they should not have worried about him in such a way.
You and I know that the sort of anxiety Mary and Joseph felt at that time is not so easily dismissed or dealt with. We do worry, and to simply say, in effect, “don’t worry, God has it all in hand” is a lot easier said than done. As we enter 2021 we are all hoping that the vaccines will bring things back to normal sooner rather than later. Of course, we are grateful to God for the peace and help that we have known in the difficult last year, and we have faith that God is at work amongst us. But still we worry: we worry for our families; we worry for ourselves; we worry for our nation and our world. It doesn’t really help to be told, “don’t worry!”. Rather we need to find a way to live with our worries, so that they do not overwhelm us and so that we can know peace in anxious times. I wonder if the short sentence at the end of Luke’s story gives us a clue how to do this when he tells us that, even though Mary did not understand, she “treasured all these things in her heart”.
Mary took the time to contemplate, think about, and focus on all that God had shown her over the years. By doing so, she would have reminded herself of God’s goodness and mercy; that God was with her and was blessing her; that God was faithful and trustworthy. By doing so she was able to face all the trials, twists and turns of life that were to come her way: the worries and, ultimately, the tragedies. This is the reason why we remind ourselves of the Nativity stories every Christmas and why we read the Bible, pray and worship. We know that our lives can take sudden and difficult turns, and that there will be worries that we cannot just dismiss: but there is also a God upon whom we can rely and who loves us. I pray that in the midst of whatever this year holds you find the peace that comes from a heart centred on God.
As always the church notices and words for Sunday’s service are attached. If you do not already join us by phone or online for our Sunday service or daily prayers, I really want to encourage you to do so. Details of how you can do that are in the notices sheet. With the tightening of restrictions once again you may find that you need some help in some way. If that is the case, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to me.
Rev. Ian Aitken
52 Ashgrove Road West
Tel. 01224 686929
Aberdeen: Stockethill Church of Scotland
Scottish Charity Number - SC030587