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  • Helen Bent

One by one, bit by bit (09-07-21)

Bible Readings

On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ (Haggai 2. 1 – 5)


“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty… “Don’t despise the day of small things.” (Zechariah 4. 6, 10)


A Thought We have spent the past fortnight caravanning in Cornwall and Devon. During that time we enjoyed exploring rockpools with our Cornish grandchildren, picking out starfish and collecting them in a bucket, much to the delight of Rowan and Oscar.


Starfish are remarkable creatures which have the ability to regrow any damaged arms. Some species can survive out of sea water for up to twenty-eight hours. However, it is a sad fact that if starfish get washed up onto a beach and left there too long, they will gradually dry out and die.


There’s a story about starfish that I find particularly inspiring. A little boy walked along a beach covered with washed up starfish. As he walked, he picked up individual starfish and threw them back into the water. An elderly man asked him what difference this could possibly make when there were so many dying starfish on the beach. The small boy replied with conviction: “It makes a difference to this one!” This is a similar approach to that of Greta Thunberg, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. She stated boldly and confidently: “No one is too small to make a difference.”


In the wake of Covid, recovery can seem a daunting task with much loss of life already and many around the world still at risk unless someone steps in to help. Recovery is needed in every part of life including the church after a time of being distanced and unable to meet in the usual ways. A similar problem was faced by God’s people in the Old Testament. Jerusalem had been invaded, the temple destroyed and God’s people had been taken into exile by the Babylonians. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah and the prophets, Zechariah and Haggai, recount their return to Jerusalem to restore worship and rebuild the temple, and then rebuild the city including the city walls. The task seemed huge and overwhelming, but there was also a timely reminder that this did not depend on the might and power of the people, but on God’s Spirit. However, each person was expected to work and play their part no matter how small that part might be, in the certain knowledge that God would be with them. There was no need to be fearful, because God’s Spirit remained with them.


As we continue the recovery from the pandemic, what are the small things we can do, that will make a difference to the life and wellbeing of others in our community? We too have nothing to fear, because God’s promise still holds true today. We too can be strong, because God is with us.


A Prayer Holy Spirit, Giver of Life,

thank you for remaining with us always.

Walk with us and help us to make a difference each day.

Amen.

O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us

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