Ministry Musings are also included on the latest pewsheet

Ministry Musings

September marks the start of the academic year, and it always seems to me to be a month of new beginnings. It’s so often a time when new chapters in the story of our lives are opened, times we face with excitement, anticipation and often not a little apprehension. We see unbelievably small children going off to nursery or school for the first time, older ones facing the first day at ‘big school,’ even older children moving on to further education in sixth form or college, and of course young adults going to university or training in their chosen subjects.

And we should spare a thought for those left behind so to speak – those leaving their ‘little ones’ - of all ages! - in the care of others to learn new skills and experiences where their input isn’t necessarily wanted! And although I have highlighted only the main stages in our progress through education, I suspect each September brings varying degrees of ‘fresh start’ for all young people, not least to those completing their training courses and embarking on new careers, which will be their means of earning a living.

It’s certainly a time when emotions run high as the reality of new routines takes hold, the ‘empty nest’ needs refurbishing, and we realize that life will never be quite the same again!

However much our lives change, and indeed however much our relationship with our God changes, one thing we can be sure of is that we have an unchanging, faithful, loving and merciful God, who through Jesus has promised to be with us always, come what may, even ‘to the very end of the age.’

Despite his unchanging nature, we can also take comfort in the thought that God himself is a God of new beginnings. So often we get things wrong, we do and say things which will grieve our God. We turn away from Him, mistakenly thinking that we can manage quite well without Him, relying on our own wit and strength to see us through life. Inevitably we realize what we have done, but we have the assurance that, if we sincerely ask his forgiveness, God will forgive us and give us the opportunity to make a fresh start with Him. This means we can set aside our regrets, and take up the challenges of new beginnings in the knowledge that we shall have our God’s support and comfort when things get tough.

A grand old hymn comes to mind when we think of God’s faithful mercy and forgiveness, one which, despite its rather old-fashioned language seems to be a favourite of many. Below you will find just a couple of its verses most relevant to these musings:

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

So let’s pray that all those facing new beginnings, in whatever form they come, may be aware of God’s presence with them, upholding them and keeping them safe, and showering them with his many blessings. May you all have a happy and blessed September.