Read Psalm 126 here.
At the start (or close to) of each year, Lawson Road takes time to look back on the previous year and forward to the current year. We look back seeking to identify how we, as a church, have served God in the previous 12 months. However, we don’t want to take credit for ourselves, so we also seek to acknowledge how God has worked through and among us over that period.
The church members benefit from this process because they often don’t realise how the church has grown or how many guests visited us during the year. Vision Sunday also provides an opportunity to highlight ministries that take place outside the spotlight, and share their victories with the rest of the congregation.
When we turn our gaze to the coming year we attempt to predict the opportunities and challenges we will face as a church. Of course there is a measure of futility associated with this task, but we would also be irresponsible if we didn’t make any plans. We mainly emphasise our need to seek and prepare for the opportunities God will send us to serve Him and share His Good News.
As I prepared for this annual event it occurred to me how many Biblical examples I could find of this process. The concept of looking backwards at God’s activity in our lives and using those experiences to inform our future faith forms a recurring example in Scripture.
- God’s actions in the Exodus form the basis of his demand for future exclusive worship in Exodus 20.
- Many of the Psalms follow this pattern. For example, the first 3 verses of Psalm 126 look back to God’s deliverance and the joy that accompanied it. That experience then forms the basis for expecting God to again deliver with joy in the last 3 verses.
- Hebrews 11-12 uses the lives of past godly leaders to motivate faith in present day Christians. “Since we’re surrounded by [these previous examples of faith] … let us run with perseverance… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2)
- The Lord’s Supper embraces this head swiveling principle. At it’s core, the Supper commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ. Yet looking backwards in turn inspires us to look forward and motivates our present actions, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.“
This may seem like a logical process to apply to Scripture since it was written a couple of thousand years ago, but how about in our own lives and churches?
- How many examples do you have of God working in your life? How do they impact your faith as you move into the future?
- Do you agree that most Christians don’t have many specific examples of God’s activity in their life? Why do you think that is?
- Have you ever been part of a church that could share a history of God’s blessing that motivated them to move confidently into the future?
- I suspect that most church members don’t know their congregational history and therefore many examples of God’s grace, love and rescue are quickly lost. What’s your experience? Does it matter?