The God of Restoration 6 th Jan 2021
Here is what I would have said at our service on Tuesday if we had been able to meet. I would like to thank Mission Aviation Foundation (MAF) for the ideas in this short piece Restoration As the lockdown continues, we can perhaps find a little solace with a cup of tea, in front of the TV. Joan and I both enjoy the Repair Shop and Peter Lyth has mentioned it more than once in his addresses.
This is the programme where 'where much-loved but broken treasures are brought back to life.’ For those who haven't seen it, each episode follows expert craftspeople who restore family heirlooms that have sentimental value for the owners. It's fascinating to see something that looks completely broken and beyond repair being carefully taken apart, cleaned up, refurbished, and then reassembled. The item is not just repaired it is RESTORED.
Restored to its former condition and then restored to the owner who then has memories restored of happy times in the past. And God is also in the restoration business. At this time of upheaval and uncertainty our desire for restoration, personally and collectively, is high. We are impatient to see an end to lockdown restrictions.
We are impatient for the vaccine programme to be rolled out. We are impatient for an exit strategy. We are mostly resilient in times of crisis, but the longer the crisis goes on, the harder it becomes to remain positive.
We have all, during our lives cried out to God for an exit strategy during prolonged times of challenge. And this pandemic, I think we can all agree is one of those prolonged periods in which everybody is affected, one way or another, due to grief, loss, mental health issues, sickness, isolation, loneliness, deferred hope, disrupted plans, disappointment, and fear of the unknown.
The weeping prophet The prophet Jeremiah is often portrayed as bringing only bad news. The King didn't like the message God had given His prophet and Jeremiah found himself in prison. His assignment was a really tough one He was opposed, rejected, worn out and lonely. He also suffered the torment of knowing that things were going to get worse before they got better For many years, the people of Israel had deviated so far from God's law that they had forfeited His blessing. Under King Josiah there was something of a return to righteous living, but the people soon fell back into their old habits of idol worship etc.
There are many Jeremiahs today ;
The Green lobby – the world is going to be on fire
The financial advisers – the economy is doomed The political voices – our confrontational style will be the end of our democracy
The aid agencies – unless we change our ways there will be widespread famine
The peace makers – unless we stop the sale and manufacture of arms wars and armed conflict will continue.
All these groups can feel that they have been banging their heads against a brick wall for a long time but thy know they must continue if restoration is to happen. And so we come to our reading from Jeremiah that so-called prophet of doom and gloom. He probably felt he had been banging his head against a brick wall. We hear the message that he received while in prison because his message didn’t please the king, and we know that there are people today in prison because the rulers of their countries just don’t like their views.
Read -Jeremiah Ch 33 v’s 1-3 & v’s 10 – 13
'Call to me and I will answer you' (33:3).
In the midst of His anger and frustration, and the impending destruction that would befall Jerusalem, God invites the people of Israel to return to Him. Even in His judgement, God remembers mercy and promises to restore His people. The Bible is full of stories of restoration, each one revealing the character of a God who desires to bring restoration to His children and His world.
Zechariah 10:6 tells us that God will 'restore them because [He has] compassion on them', while Isaiah 57:18 highlights the fact that, even though God sees the ways of His people, He will heal, guide and restore them. In the midst of all the coronavirus chaos, God is calling out to us, inviting us to draw closer to Him. During this pandemic, we have seen the best and the worst of people. Back in March there was a beautiful sense of unity and compassion as people celebrated the keyworkers and looked out for one another. Over the last few months, however, the ugly side of human nature has sometimes leaked out through extreme reactions to racial injustice, rising levels of intolerance towards opposing opinions, and a very obvious increase in something we might call 'complaint culture'.
We need God to restore the beauty that is possible in this world at this time. IT STARTS WITH US. Encouragement We are representatives of Jesus. We have an opportunity to be a window of hope in a time of hopelessness. We can direct people to God's restoring power. Through our prayers, we can lift up their arms when they are weary, as Aaron and Hur did for Moses.
We can send a text to encourage someone or give them a call to remind them that they are not alone.
Even if you are finding this period really hard, reach out anyway. It's surprising how often we get encouragement from being an encourager. And so, we continue to move forward. We believe God will restore this world back to Himself. Yes, it is likely that we'll have to live with the consequences of coronavirus for some time yet. But God is still at work. God is still moving. God isn't on lockdown. God isn't limited or lacking in anything. God is still the all-powerful God we read about in the Bible. God is personable. God is available. God is quick to forgive. God’s love never runs dry. God is all-knowing and all-seeing God knows each one of us intimately and loves us so much that He allowed His Son to hang on a tree to restore us back to Himself. Amen
Hymn 1. Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart. 2. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.
PS It is interesting to note that Jay Blades, the presenter of the Repair Shop, has, from what I can make out, a very profound restoration in his own life and now helps others to find a sound basis for their lives. Blessing Psalm 80 v 3 Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.