By Snr Ps Beh Soo Yeong
Many are probably relieved that 2020 is finally done and dusted! Indeed, it has been a difficult and even tumultuous year for all of us. Lives and livelihoods are all at stake. Nonetheless, regardless of the challenges we face, I trust that you are able to see the grace and mercy of God through it all. I was at a personal retreat just a few days ago, and as I reflected on what transpired during this year, I was amazed at how God has proven yet again that he is faithful. When trials abound, grace abounds even more! It was hard at the start, trying to recall what had happened during the year, but as I paid attention to God and his fingerprints, the recollection of his handiwork just welled up in me a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness. If you have not yet taken time to reflect, recount and rejoice in the grace and mercy of God, I encourage you to do so, before you get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the new year again.
Of course, we must remember that we are not out of the pandemic yet, so the usual safe management practices like masks and safe distancing should still be adhered to. Nonetheless, as we step into 2021, it is time for us to return to the house of the Lord. Thankfully, the infection numbers are low, so it makes returning a lot less risky. The long absence from the physical church gatherings have certainly taken a toll on many of us. We have been in “exile” many months, because of the medical emergency. Yet, this sense of being displaced, not being able to meet physically to fellowship with and encourage each other creates in us a certain longing of what we might have taken for granted in the past. It is therefore important that we get back together.
Similarly, it is time to rebuild the Lord’s house and his work in our lives and in his church. Certain areas of ministry and service might have undergone a long hiatus, but it’s time to pick up the pieces and rebuild. We are also called to rebuild our spiritual lives. Do not let the convenience and comfort of home online services lull you into complacency. Afterall, ours is an incarnational faith, as demonstrated by Jesus himself. He did not just send us an online message about his love and sacrifice on the cross, but he came to seek and save the lost, to physically die and resurrect from the dead.
This year’s pulpit and study will focus on the post-exilic materials of Ezra-Nehemiah (in part), Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. You will find that as people return and rebuild, they are always led to reconsecrate themselves – the ultimate intent of God for his people—to give of themselves to the Lord.
During the pandemic, it became clear that those who already had healthy spiritual habits for themselves and their family were able to cope much better than those who did not. As the on-site church went into prolong hiatus, many without a regular devotional time with God, both individually and as a family found it particularly hard to stay vibrant spiritually. So, let’s learn from this experience. Let’s pick up good spiritual habits together. Let’s get back to basics.
With the aim of rebuilding, we are inviting you to participate in a Growing Deeper Invitation, where you learn, practice or continue some basic but great spiritual exercises during the year. There are 10 practices, including prayer, Bible reading, fasting, spiritual friendship, scripture memory, family worship, discipling, sharing the gospel etc. I encourage you to pick at least 4 of them. Most of these exercises are to be done with a few friends. The purpose is to develop a deeper walk with the Lord in the context of a nurturing and encouraging community of a few other brothers and sisters in Christ. No person is an island, and we need one another to last the spiritual journey. More details are in the booklet, which will be available from next weekend onwards, both in hardcopy and online. I pray that through 2021, we will find ourselves encouraging one another to return, rebuild and reconsecrate ourselves to him. Have a blessed 2021!