Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: June Magazine.
Dear brothers & sisters,
As I look at the church diary for June I see a theme running throughout of ‘choice’. We begin joyfully with Confirmation when over thirty candidates have decided to publicly affirm their choice to follow Jesus. These candidates have worked through a basic course reading through the whole Gospel of Mark, following the eyewitnesses as they follow Jesus, seeing who He is and what He does, so that they can make an informed choice about whether they want to be Christians. Shortly after this, St George’s will host the Archdeacon’s Visitation which is a service for swearing in church wardens for this year, those who have made the choice to put themselves forward to take on the difficult task of looking after their church building. This choice is an outworking of their choice to heed Jesus’ call and to use their gifts in the service of Christ’s body, the Church. On top of that we have the proposed lifting of restrictions, and as I write, the 21st June is still the scheduled date for all restrictions to be lifted. However, whenever these legal restrictions are lifted, all of us will be faced with a whole host of choices, whether we want them or not. Should I wear a face covering even if I don’t have to? Should I book that abroad holiday, or might there be a resurgence? I could go on! The lifting of restrictions is very welcome, and now our choices, for so long massively curtailed are back in our hands; what will we choose to do?
Choice is also a big part of the story of God which we read in the Scriptures. As a church family we are currently working our way through the Book of Genesis, and this is a book all about choice. The choice of God to create. The choice of humankind to rebel. The choice of Noah to build. The choice of Abraham to listen and follow. At the centre of this whole story is a God who chooses again and again to speak to, and wrestle with, His people, and call them to make the choice to follow Him. Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph are the models put forward for us because, fallible and mistake-prone they may be, they keep choosing God’s way over their own way, and as a result God’s people find a new beginning. God, though sovereign and all-powerful, never takes the free will of an individual away, He always gives them a choice and abides by their decisions. However, as many of the episodes we will study in Genesis point out, individuals, and humankind in particular, regularly make the wrong choices and in the end God must, and does, come Himself. In the person of Jesus, God comes to live a life full of the right choices, and in so doing frees the rest of us to choose to follow Him to glory.
As we unlock, as we watch people confirmed, as we see men and women choose to serve as church wardens, we are reminded that each one of us must keep making choices. Each morning we face the choice to follow Jesus or not today; we face the choice to pray and read the Scriptures or not today; each Sunday and Wednesday we face the choice or not to gather with God’s people; and eventually these choices build into a life, a life determined and defined by our choices. For those who have chosen to follow Jesus, let us pray that with God’s help the words of the well-known hymn, “I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back”, would be true for each one of us.