In Lewis Carroll’s rather bizarre tale of Alice and her adventures in wonderland, the young Alice on several occasions either eats or drinks something which causes her to grow or to shrink. I wonder if over the past couple of years our view of the world has grown or shrunk? Not because of what we have eaten or drunk, but …well COVID has affected us in so many ways; the challenges and restrictions we have faced have changed both what we do and also how we view the world around us. For many people, the use of Zoom, and other such platforms, has helped expand their world as they have connected with people around the world at the click of a button. For others, their world has shrunk given they have not been able to travel and that which is local has taken on a new significance and importance.

This weekend is an opportunity for us to grow and expand our view of what God is doing in the world as it is our Global Focus Weekend. It is great to have our horizon expanded, and I’m confident that in various ways over the weekend that will happen. Having our horizon expanded is not, in God’s purposes, at odds with that which is local being significant and important to us. The adage, “think global, act local” springs to mind.

The bible has several pairings which at first glance seem to be mutually exclusive, but which in God’s purposes belong together. Our theme for Global Focus is one such pairing:

Rejoicing and Weeping

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul instructs them, and therefore us, to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). When we look at our world with its certainties and multiple and innumerable losses, there is much for which we need to mourn, especially when we remember our kinship in Christ with those who, in addition to the pandemic, war and rumours of war, suffer from a myriad of injustices. We need to hear their stories and stand with them in prayer.

In my experience these stories, while full of challenges and suffering, speak of God’s hesed (click on the word to watch a video). I think hesed [חֶ֥סֶד] is going to be an important word for us as we seek to grow in Christlikeness, recover from the pandemic, call this city to life, and partner with, and support, our mission partners/mission organisations.

In my experience stories that come from a place of mourning and weeping, because they speak of God’s hesed, contain moments of rejoicing. They speak of a joy that the world cannot understand but comes from God and gives remarkable strength. So, we not only need to be attentive and see and hear those who weep (and understand the reasons for this), but we also need to pay attention to stories of rejoicing, especially where they arise from situations of suffering.

One of the ways we can be attentive to these stories of rejoicing and weeping is by hearing from and listening to our mission partners. There will be an opportunity to do that on Sunday night as we join together across Zoom, across continents to hear from and pray with our mission partners. All our mission partners are planning to be on the call and we’ll also on this call connect with Fast in Romania, IJM and Tearfund.

Each of our mission partners has, like so many of us, experienced losses and challenges in this time of COVID. Yet, while we have all been in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. That we’ve all been in the same storm is helpful, it means we have a shared experience and understanding. However, it also means we need to listen well, so we understand the specifics of different situations and contexts.

Global Focus this weekend

On Friday night there is an opportunity to have some fun and expand our horizons as we join the Global Focus Quiz, 7pm till 9pm in the large hall in Camphill. If you’ve not yet booked your ticket for this, please do so. The cost of your ticket helps support our mission partners and projects.

On Sunday morning Paul Davie from Alpha International is our guest speaker. Paul’s work brings him into contact with wonderful sisters and brothers in Christ around the world some of whom are rejoicing and some of whom are weeping. I have, as I’ve gotten to know Paul, not just grown to appreciate his stories but the prophetic edge he brings as he faithfully shares what God is saying to him. I’m really looking forward to what Paul is going to share with us and how God is going to use him on Sunday morning.

Please also look out for our Global Focus prayer diary for 2022 which will be available through Church Suite. This contains a profile and prayer points for each of our mission partners. I pray that it will be a starting point for us as we demonstrate what it means to be a community of hesed as we listen well to the stories of our mission partners and seek to support them practically and in prayer.

All our mission partners regularly send updates and prayer letters to those who want to support them at a deeper level. Why don’t you, as well as using this prayer guide, connect with a mission partner at this deeper level and contact them for their newsletter/prayer updates?

Grace and peace.