Yesterday was the 1st September and we are in the last 4 months of 2020. Summer is now over and autumn has started. The temperatures will start to become cooler and the days will continue to get shorter.
Normally at this time of year there is the expectation of new beginnings as the new academic year starts. Young people will be changing school years, joining new schools and going onto further and higher education.
In our churches September usually sees the reopening of the various groups that have had a break during the summer holidays.
However, this year has been very different due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year as we face the last 4 months of 2020 there are many concerns including:
Will there be a second wave of coronavirus?
Will the schools be able to return successfully?
Will unemployment increase when the government furlough scheme finishes?
Will there be cuts in government expenditure or increases in taxation to pay for the cost of the lockdown?
When will people be able to go on foreign holidays again without worrying about having to quarantine on their return to the UK?
When will churches be allowed to meet and worship without restricted numbers? When will we be allowed to sing in churches again?
In the midst of all these concerns it is very easy to be discouraged. However the following words that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi are ones that I personally find very encouraging. The amazing thing is that Paul wrote these incredible words whilst in prison!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)
Yes things may not be great at the moment, but let us focus on these words and ask God to renew our hope in the truth of what Paul wrote here.