20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3: 20-21 NIVUK)
It was the week before this years Holiday Club, and I asked how many children had registered. I was told 3, with the assurance that, “that’s 2 more than we had this time last year”.
I confess that I began to feel increasingly anxious about the attendance at the Holiday Club, fearing that it would end up feeling like a bit of a flop. I, therefore, began to pray, “God, if we could just get 30 children, like we had last year, that would be fine”.
Wonderfully, by the end of the Holiday Club week, I believe we welcomed around 70 children in total, with the highest attendance going to 48 on the Wednesday. I was in awe – not only had God answered my prayer, He had done so beyond what I had asked, or even what I imagined might be possible.
What can we learn from this?
The first, I think, is that prayer works! I have been wondering why we had such a successful and well attended Holiday Club. We didn’t really do anything differently this year: we planned the same, advertised the same, held the Holiday Club on the same week.
So, what made the difference this year? I believe it is because we had a much greater and concerted effort of prayer before the Holiday Club. This, for me, is a very powerful example of the fact that prayer works, and God answers prayer!
The second thing is that, not only does God answer prayer, but He does so beyond out imagination or expectations. If you’d told me that we would engage with 70+ children in the same breath as telling me we only had 3 registered, I would not have believed you. I would have thought it impossible. Yet, God confounded my expectations, and did a much greater thing than I could imagine.
I believe God is trying to show us what He can do when we turn to Him and earnestly pray for the ministry of our congregation. He can help us achieve things beyond our imagining!
I hope this example can act as an encouragement to us, to marshal our prayers and seek God’s hand in the ministry of our church. If we do, we cannot begin to imagine what God will achieve, for it will be immeasurably more; not so that we can glorify in ourselves, but so that He will receive all the glory throughout all generations, forever and ever!
May God bless you,
30Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20: 30-31 NIVUK)
25Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25 NIVUK)
Holy Week is a special time for me, and not just because it centres around the vital moments of our faith! With worship occurring almost daily, and with regular opportunities to share the message of Jesus in other settings (e.g. school assemblies), I must, out of necessity, set aside some of the other aspects of full-time ministry and focus on these times.
I am grateful to those who helped and supported in the leading of our Holy Week services, and I give them my thanks. Even so, I find I still need to pour a great deal of time and energy into these times of worship, and it is liberating to do so. I personally find it an enriching experience.
I hope that you had a blessed Holy Week, and through it you were able to reconnect with the central moments of our faith; namely the death and resurrection of Christ. I hope this because this is one of the reasons behind Holy Week: to allow Christians and the Church to get back to our foundation, to reorient ourselves around Jesus’ death and resurrection, and prepare to go back out into the world, proclaiming His love and Kingdom.
Holy Week reminds us that Jesus truly was the Messiah, the Son of God. This was also part of the reason John wrote his Gospel: in the first quotation above, he makes it clear that he has written that his readers might believe Jesus is the one who brings salvation to our world, and that through Him we might receive life. The experience of Holy Week helps us to believe that Jesus is our saviour.
The second quotation helps us to understand what we are to do now that Holy Week is over. While I doubt this was John’s thinking, I tend to think that part of the reason Jesus complete work cannot be contained within books is because He is still working today. If we were to try and write it all down, we’d never finish, because He is still working; through the Holy Spirit and through the Church, calling people back to Himself and God.
As a congregation, this is our calling: to respond to God’s call to work for Him, retelling the message of Holy Week, reaching out in love with the Gospel. I’ll be giving you more information soon, about how I hope we can ALL be encouraged to participate in God’s work. For now, I hope we can take the message of Holy Week to heart and be ready to respond when God calls.
May God bless you