Every time a New Year roles around it seems like time has flown and I can't quite believe another year is over . Does anyone else feel that way? When I look at my daughters it could-n't be clearer - it wasn't long ago that Hannah was a baby, right? Well actually, in 2013 she turns 10! As they say "time flies".
What is it about time that makes it fly by so quickly? There is the old saying that, "time flies when you're having fun". However, my experience is that it flies regardless of the level of fun being had!
I think perhaps some of the "speed" of time can come down to our hopes, dreams and ex-pectations. If we are striving for more; if we are desperate for the future NOW, we can find that it comes all too soon and perhaps not in the way that we might have hoped. If however we can stop ourselves from living in the future. If we can stop and smell the roses; if we can simply experience the present, then perhaps we wouldn't be so concerned or anxious about the future. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have a vision of the future (that's the great stuff that dreams are made of!). Instead, I'm saying that the future is moulded by what we do right now - it's safe to leave in God's hands. So right now I think I need: to spend some time re-aligning myself with God; to work on my relationship with Him, to allow him to "recreate" me as I go about some recreation. How about you?
This Christmas many of us will be spending quality time with family and friends. We will be sharing presents, consuming copious amounts of food and beverages, and generally having a fantastic time! In our culture this has become a huge part of what Christmas is about - and it's great. I'm happy to say, if all goes to plan, my Christmas will be much like this.
But there's a dark side to Christmas for many people! For those struggling finan-cially, Christmas can be a gateway to financial ruin; a time of spending far more than planned in this consumer driven environment. For others they will be on the receiving end of increased domestic violence over what is meant to be a "festive" season - for them it is anything but.
For new immigrants to New Zealand, or even those who have simply moved town, Christmas can be a sad and difficult time, reminding them of the good times "back home". For many Elderly, particularly widows and widowers, Christmas can be a very lonely time with no friends and family to share it with.
I could go on. The simple truth is that Christmas is great for many of us, but it's not great for everyone! That's why it's so important for us to remember the real reason that we celebrate Christmas. It rings from the familiar words of many Christmas car-ols and can be summarised in this line, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!". The birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is not some popular myth and it's far more than a religious notion, it's the power of God reaching into our world to bring us all hope and a future. My prayer is that we will ALL have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
On Thursday I was shocked to hear about a Tornado ripping through a part of West Auck-land that is very close to where I grew up. Tragically this event took the lives of three peo-ple. Then, I heard on the radio news that Ngongotaha, Rotorua (where our house is) was also hit by a Tornado - unfortunately it didn't take our sinking house away and solve that problem (visions of flying house in "Wizard of Oz").
As close to home as those events felt for me at the time, I didn't think that they would directly affect me. I was wrong. Early Friday morning I got a phone call from AirNZ (yes, you heard right...they called me!), saying that my early flight from New Plymouth to Auck-land was cancelled due to backlog following the storm in Auckland. I am now going to be late for my Mission Council meetings (doh!). You may remember a couple of months ago I wrote a blurb about waiting at airports - the wait continues...
Unexpected things happen all the time. We are affected by the consequences of things that we might have never anticipated. Chaos theory talks about a "butterfly effect", where small changes can cause large events. Of course the tornado wasn't a small thing, and it caused change to a relatively small event (my flight), but still the truth is that it was something that affected me in ways I didn't expect.
So what am I trying to get at here? Well, I think it's important that we notice the connections: between things; between people, between events. When we take notice of the connections then we can observe the way in which God has stitched this Universe together - no matter how hard we might try to be independent, the truth is that we're connected!
When we notice the connections we find that there are opportunities to share how the Good News of Jesus connects to every story; how God's Master plan of restoration affects every one; how the Holy Spirit is wooing us all into relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
So open your eyes and look for the connections. Notice the cause and affect. Identify the chain reactions. Look out for God at work in transforming lives through the big things and the little things.
Blessings, Pastor David Auty.