Dear First Church folk,

Spring is just around the corner. The mornings are becoming brighter, days are gradually getting warmer, and the evening light extending a little longer. There seems to be a new energy or freshness in the air.

After a long and cold winter, we all need something to warm us up and revive our energy levels. I’ve been very encouraged by the lectionary in recent weeks. In some way, the readings have reflected the changing of seasons. The cold wintry conditions or the harsh circumstances of life can be seen in the injustices   Joseph faced within his family, Potiphar’s home, and the Egyptian legal system (Gen. 37-40). Similarly, the Gospel lections from Matthew portray the difficult challenges of discipleship whereby the disciples are charged by Jesus to feed the multitude (Mt. 14:13-21) and to walk on water in a storm (vv. 22-33).

Yet, these conditions last for a time until they are turned around or changed. In these stories, it is God who brings about hope. It is God’s gift of dream interpretation and wisdom that enables Joseph’s fortunes to turn around to become the second most powerful person in Egypt, to be reconciled with his family, and enable them to survive the famine. It is God in Christ who worked alongside his disciples to miraculously feed the multitude of people and who reassured their faith on the stormy lake.

Sometimes, we may feel as if our wintery/testing circumstances will never end. Perhaps we fear having no respite from our    struggles; that we will never experience a change in our fortunes or receive the help we desperately need; that we have no hope to our seemingly hopeless situation.

My prayer is that we continue to trust God in our trying times. The stories of Joseph and of the disciples remind us that, although we may feel alone or helpless in our hardship, we are not. God’s silence does not necessarily mean God’s absence. The Epistle reading from Romans 11:1-2a, 29 – 32 last week reminds us that though some may turn away from God in their trials, God does not forsake them. I believe God is in our suffering as well as our wellbeing. God is with us.

The presence of God is our hope. It affirms God’s steadfast love for us; enduring with us in our trials and enabling us to respond in ways to turn things around for the better as it did for Joseph, the disciples of Jesus, and the Apostle Paul. It is a love that reminds us of the value of people and of relationship. It brings the warmth and light of hope to see us through from wintery hardships to the spring of new opportunities.

The value of people and relationship was beautifully conveyed to us through an interview with Kirsty Merriman during last  Sunday’s 10am service. We heard how her experiences of living in another country and engaging with the diversity of cultures enabled Kirsty to appreciate others in their otherness. Despite all the barriers that could make relationships and life extremely difficult, Kirsty encouraged us to exercise welcome. Welcoming others who are different from ourselves or with whom we may have differences requires a recognition of their value as fellow human beings. They are loved by God as we are. We are to show them love and compassion; not to change them.


I wonder if this Spring is presenting us opportunities to be reinvigorated in our discipleship. I pray that God’s presence with us energises us to build relationships with others through acts of welcome. May we continue to extend the parameters of                          community to embrace those seeking the warmth and light of God’s love in the time of their wintery hardships. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7)







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