Hertford Methodist Church seeks to serve God in Hertford and the wider world through love and fellowship
Those of you who have got to know me during my first year with you know that I am a sports’ fan. Over the past number of weeks we have been truly spoilt with a whole array of sports to watch, if not to play.
For me most importantly last month it was the tennis. Our now very grown up children still recount how when they were small and we only had a few TV channels – and one television to watch anyway – that for 2 weeks of the year there wasn’t children’s TV because ‘mum was watching Wimbledon!’
Now though we have turned our total gaze to Edwin’s beloved sport that I too have learned to enjoy, that is cricket. Don’t ask me to explain all the fielding placements though as that is something only the ‘elite’ ever get to grips with, with silly mid-off or backward point, gully, slips and even fielding in the deep. That aside I do understand the twists and turns, up and downs, especially of the 5-day match.
Why am I writing about cricket? Well, as any one with even half an interest in the game will know, what amazing celebrations we have had by winning the Cricket World Cup; our crickets being hailed as national heroes. Then after very short break that rivalry or rivalries has begun – the Ashes Series. Again, at the beginning of day 3 of the first test in the series it looked like England could win comfortably, then all changed and it ended with real disappointment where the tables turned and Australia gave us an absolute battering.
You, like me, are most likely not a professional cricketer with the eyes of the world upon you, heaping praise upon your head when you are doing well and asking “How will you come back from this?”, when faced with disappointment and (in the case of England this last week) humiliation, but without a doubt life throws a few ‘googlies’ and yorkers’ our way (sorry, find a cricket fan for definition if one is needed here).
Cricket is only a game (though don’t tell Edwin I said that). Life is much more important.
How do we learn to deal with the disappointments, struggles, challenges and pain that come our way? How do we find our way forward?
Paul lived and taught at a time when struggles, challenges and difficulties were a very real daily threat for the young emerging church. For many their very lives were in constant danger.
To encourage and strengthen the early believers Paul wrote
‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has been poured out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given us.’ (Romans 5:1-6)
Paul is by no means saying it’s easy to face up to, confront and overcome the challenges and pain we face. He is saying however, that God, by his Holy Spirit can be living and at work in us by his love and grace, and that because of this we can find joy and hope even in the midst of deepest challenge or pain. This hope isn’t the vain ‘wish’ of the world, but is the living promise through Christ himself. God, by his Holy Spirit comes to our aid; to help us to persevere, to grow and mature in faith and discipleship. This is indeed something to rejoice in, God is with us.
Paul encouraged his listeners and readers to understand that growing with God, and into God, shapes us as God’s people. Paul perhaps in short is saying Don’t give up, keep going, keep growing, the future hope is already yours because of Christ Jesus.
I don’t know what the England coach is going to be saying to the players as they prepare for the 2nd test next week. I believe though that we need to hear Paul’s words to persevere, grow and hope through the love and grace that is ours through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit – and rejoice!
Some of you are aware that recently it has been a personal time of sadness and struggle and so I share this with you not from a point of ease but from the reality of the comfort they offer me, and with a hope they do so for you too.
God’s peace and blessing, Debbie
Minister - Revd. Debbie Hodgson - firstname.lastname@example.org