PASTORAL LETTER FROM REV JOSEPH TEMBO 13th January 2021

How many times have we come across the road sign “Ahead Only”? Some of us more than others have. The “Ahead Only” sign is a blue circle with a white arrow pointing up or “north”. Road signs with blue circles without the colour red in them mostly give positive instructions.

There may be many other influences and messages surrounding you while on a road with the “Ahead Only” sign; and if you have made up your mind to pay attention to the road sign, you can positively proceed on your direction of travel.

What road sign do you see on the “road” you are travelling on the journey in 2021? We left the year 2020 and entered 2021 with varying feelings and outlooks, mainly because of the unstable and changing social environment. The main cause of this instability is the changing reality Covid-19 has placed all of us in.

It is my honest prayer and hope that you are travelling on the road of life with one clear and positive sign “Ahead Only” in the midst of negativity, instability and changes that you would not choose or advocate for. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are people of the Way. The Lord identified himself to his followers as the Way when he in John 14.6 declared: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’

This Way we are travelling on has a positive and encouraging road sign that says “Ahead Only”. So, when problems, discouraging voices, unpleasant circumstances, effects of the coronavirus, confusing instructions, difficult rules, illnesses, bereavements, lack of guarantees about a lot of things that concern us, and other people’s irresponsible behaviour are calling our attention and causing conflict within us, we must keep our eyes on the positive encouraging “Ahead Only” sign.

The Bible instructs us very strongly about this and says, ‘Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed— that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he ploughed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!’ (Hebrews 12.1-3 – MSG)

“Keep your eyes on Jesus” reminds me about the chorus “I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back”. Ours is to keep following where the Lord is leading, and that direction is ahead. The Bible has said ‘he never lost sight of where he was headed’, and so shouldn’t we: we must keep on going ahead only. Yes, it is all change around us, but we must never turn to the left or to the right. If we stay on the way ahead, we will be strong and afford a true smile that will begin to give hope to others.

Jesus in Mark 4.19, in explaining the Parables of the Sower says, ‘but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.’

There are a lot of worries of this life around, but they must not take our eyes off the way ahead because this is God’s direction of travel and that is where he is leading his children.

So, in or out of lockdown, let it be “Ahead Only” with the Lord for us in 2021.

Finally, to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.                                            Revd Joseph Tembo

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