Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Renewal in the ruins

Reflection for morning worship with the Community of Brendan the Navigator on Tuesday 8th November 2022

Do you sometimes feel that time is accelerating, that events are moving faster and faster?

I do. Though perhaps that is just my advancing years - as I grow slower, so time seems to pass ever faster. Waiting for Christmas as a child seemed to go on for ever, but now it feels that Christmas is almost upon us – just over 5 weeks now, only 30 shopping days!

I have the same feeling when I look at the state of the world today, the beautiful world we inhabit, God’s world. The COP27 climate summit is taking place this week in Egypt. We can all see and experience for ourselves that climate is changing. The seasons here in Ireland have become distorted. We see images of extreme, damaging and even catastrophic climate events elsewhere – wildfires out of control across Europe and North America, one third of Pakistan flooded. Climate scientists tell us that the forecasts they made 20 years ago were wrong. The damaging changes they foresaw are really happening – but they are happening much faster than they at first believed they would. It is as if we are all in a flimsy canoe being swept faster and faster towards dangerous rapids, which may prove fatal to millions, and even destroy our very civilisation.

The words of the prophet Haggai (1:15b-2:9) speak to me in this time of danger.

‘Take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD; work, for I am with you, says the LORD of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear.’ Haggai tells the people that the LORD of hosts will ensure that the Temple they rebuild will be even more splendid than the ruined Temple of Solomon, and the LORD of Hosts will give them prosperity. And at Haggai’s urging the people did successfully rebuild Solomon’s Temple.

I see the beautiful world we inhabit as a temple to God, who has filled it with life including ourselves. What Haggai’s words tell me is this - we must trust that our God is with us, and overcome our fears. If we as the people of God work to repair the damage being done to his world and all its creatures, he promises we will be successful. God’s world will then be even more splendid than it was before, and all God’s creatures will flourish.

This surely is cause enough for us to ‘sing to the Lord a new song’ in the words of that wonderful hymn of praise, Psalm 98.

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