Article: “New Beginnings!” by the Rev’d Canon Brian Burrows
Text: Isaiah 28:13 from The Good News Bible “That is why the Lord is going to teach you, letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson.”
The words of the prophet remind us of our struggles with the growing family or even with the restrictions of the present pandemic. How do you make people do the right thing? Go back to basics!” Let the Lord guide us from the very beginning. These thoughts led me to think also about the faith we have in Christ Jesus. Surely, now is the time to encourage one another to put our faith in God. But, how do we begin?
1. The right Speaker! The old saying is very true – faith is not so much taught as caught! We catch the Good News by hearing it proclaimed by a speaker. In my first Arctic mission in Nunavik, Arctic Quebec, the people had been evangelized by the Rev. Edmund Peck in the late nineteen hundreds. The people gave him a name which means the Speaker or the Talker. He called the people his family and he spoke to them about Jesus in their own language.
The people travelled down the coast by dog team to hear the 'Speaker'. When they left, Peck would wave to them and wish them well, praying that they would remember the words of Jesus when they returned home.
Today in our busy world, there is a great need for speakers with the right message about Jesus our Saviour. It all begins with the speaker speaking from the heart, and the listener believing that Jesus can be found in the heart.
2. The right Day! During the lockdown, days ran into one another. What day is it we may ask? When the people of the Hudson Bay coast returned home, they also had the same problem. Which day is Sunday? I am told that the Camp leaders who worked it out were the ones who were taken seriously. It was after all important for a new believer to set aside the right day for worship!
We could say in the modern era that many people have problems about the first day of the week. Christians set aside this special day for worship and reflection as they seek to follow the teachings of Jesus.
3. The right time to Pray! Someone recently asked me to write down some of our Arctic experiences and it reminded me of an incident in 1963. The Rev. Chris Williams, later Diocesan Bishop, and I travelled by dog team to Ivuyivik, an outstation of Chris's. Each night, after the iglu was finished, the guides and ourselves said Evening Prayer from the Anglican Prayer Book.
From the very beginning, Peck had encouraged the new believers to read the Scriptures and pray regularly in their own language. In the cold of the iglu, the words, “Defend us from all perils and dangers of this night,” became very real to me.
Now during the pandemic, my wife and I also find strength from this service every Sunday. The Lord indeed is encouraging us all to start afresh, to pray using the resources we have.
Isaiah despaired of his people, until he remembered God's will for Israel. Just as the Lord promised to teach his people lesson by lesson, line by line, so we who follow Christ must follow his example. We can be speakers for Jesus in our family and community. In our hearts we can keep the right day to worship the Lord. We can find time to honour the God who gave us His Son to be the Saviour of the world. Having the privilege to serve Christ will encourage us to pray faithfully, even if separated, we are one in the Spirit with believers down the ages.