Lynne Green from the Baptist Union recently wrote a very encouraging and relevant letter of encouragement which reminded us of that great truth that The Lord will build His Church in this generation. I commend her thoughts to you as we celebrate the New Year of our Lord 2022 .
Earlier in the autumn, I asked the Lord what he was wanting to say to us as a movement at this time. What I heard was one simple word: yeast. (Not quite what I was expecting, I have to admit!) But as we look back over another demanding year, it does seem like a very timely word to us. I know that some of you are flourishing and that is so good to see. I am aware that others are overwhelmed; maybe holding huge grief and / or exhaustion, and my prayers continue to be with you. Like me, many will be somewhere in between, or experience things differently at different times. But Scripture says,
‘Jesus told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough”.’ Matt 13:33
So whether you look back on 2021 and feel like you have achieved anything or not, remember the truth that the Kingdom is like yeast. Slowly, inexorably, and often unnoticed, God’s Kingdom keeps coming. Trust that you and your following is enough. Trust and rest in the confidence that God is still at work in and through all things.
As we look forward to 2022 I want to encourage you to strengthen yourself in the Lord and be confident in who he is. I believe that this will be a season for us as a movement to lean into our identity in Christ and as Baptists.
So go forward deep in the knowledge that you are loved, that God has called you for such a time as this and trusting that, where he calls, he equips and empowers. You are, and have, everything that you need to follow Jesus into 2022 and keep in step with his Spirit.
At the same time let’s also lean into the gifts that God has given us as a movement. I have been so encouraged to see, time and time again, evidence that we are making room for Jesus to be at the centre. This is who we are and increasingly want to become. Continuing to fix our eyes on Jesus is vital as we enter a new year. Lean into the incredible gift we have as a movement to be able to be dynamic, responsive, flexible and adaptable. This has served us well during the pandemic and will enable us to embrace the new things that God wants to bring us into. Lean into our shared and wholehearted passion for being part of God’s mission together and our covenant with each other that this will remain our priority; not letting ourselves get derailed or distracted by our differences. Lean into the reality that we are a people movement that is able to inspire the incredible potential of the body of Christ. Thousands and thousands of disciples who, like yeast, find themselves in a myriad of nooks and crannies across our land as beacons of light and hope.
These are God’s gift to us as a movement for this season; Christ centred, Spirit inspired, dynamic, adaptable, mission focused and inspiring every disciple and these are the ways in which we seek to be a blessing to the wider church and our communities. God has entrusted ministry and leadership to us at this time; he has faith in us. Can we see ourselves as God sees us and lean into who we are and the new things that he is doing?
For now, press on towards Christmas trusting in the Lord’s sustaining presence. Then rest well and make the most of the opportunity to enjoy God and his goodness. By God’s grace we will be ready to listen, follow and be faithful to his call for a new year when it comes.
Grace, peace and joy in abundance,