On the week beginning November 11th I found I was getting more tired and I was still very busy at work. On Wednesday our gardener Martyn came to tidy up the garden in readiness for winter, although much to our surprise some plants had begun to flower again as if were Spring; such as the Globe thistles which have had a second flowering! I enjoyed having my hair done that afternoon.
As I had had a sore throat hanging on all week I rang and sent my apology for the Fairtrade Group meeting in the evening as I was finding it hard enough to go to work and doing my volunteering at the Acorn Centre. I woke up on Saturday morning with no voice! I had booked a massage so I thought that would help me relax and rest and I did benefit from it, although Silvie was astonished that I was totally silent! I was trying to preserve my voice as I was preaching on Sunday.
Fortunately I had arranged with the worship leader Brian to take part in the service by leading the intercessions so I hoped my voice would last out. I did not want to let the church down again as I had missed the previous service when I had had a fall earlier. I rested as much as I could on Saturday in preparation for the service.
I managed to get through the service with the aid of hot drinks kindly provided by one of the stewards to help lubricate my throat. I also went right up to the microphone to speak without using too much voice. I began the sermon talking about the psalm of praise 98 which showed God to be worthy of praise as he kept his covenant of justice with his beloved nation. He would bring justice to the nations. We too are called to work for justice and care for the needy as we are his hands and feet to serve others.
In Luke 21 the disciples were overawed by the splendour of the Herod’s temple, but Jesus foretold its destruction. Jesus warned his disciples not to be led from the truth by false prophets who would claim to be him. He told them of the persecutions and troubles they would face as they proclaimed the good news about Jesus, but told them not to worry what to say as they would be given the words by his Holy Spirit. The disciples were to develop their community of believers and support each other through the coming times growing in fellowship with our Lord.
The Thessalonians thought that the return of Jesus was imminent so some had given up jobs and were being supported by others; but Paul reminded them that no one knew the exact time when Jesus would return and it was important that they continue to lead normal lives. Paul quoted a saying; ‘If a man refuses to work, neither let him eat.’ It is the refusal to work that is important, not that those who cannot find work cannot eat, nor those who are too ill to work, as is happening nowadays. In those cases the community has a duty of care to support those whose wages are too small to meet their needs and commitments or those who can only find part time work, especially in a time when prices are rising faster than wages. We are called to work for justice and fight for and stand with those who cannot speak up for themselves.
Are you impatient for Jesus to return and bring the time of peace and final judgement? Do you wonder how long you will have to suffer from a debilitating condition before you are taken to your Lord? Do you wonder how much more the poor and vulnerable will have to suffer before a fairer society is achieved and the Kingdom of God will be established on the earth? Do you wonder if God is ever going to answer your prayer? God says wait for my timing. He is a longsuffering and patient God who longs for everyone to come to know Jesus and begin to live an abundant life of love and acceptance, before he returns in judgement. Let us not attempt to drive God to act in the ways we want but rather continue to wait on him for direction, knowing that his timing is right. Let us spend this time sharing God’s unconditional, forgiving and all embracing love with those who long for that unconditional acceptance, so they too can experience life in all its fullness which begins here and now and even death cannot end.
After the service the congregation were grateful that I had made the effort to come and the steward sent me home to bed! I managed to eat some lunch but then after resting on the couch I found I could not get comfortable, so I did go to bed. I no longer had any appetite and the next day my voice did not improve, so I texted work to send my apologies and my beloved kept tempting me with tasty morsels but I only managed a little. I could not sleep at night as I kept coughing and waking my longsuffering beloved. I rang work later on Monday and Joy did not recognise my voice at first as I rang to say I would not make it in on Tuesday!