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good morning south friends welcome to this uh time in between christmas and new year it’s this time this sunday where we just celebrate the fact that we can give some time off to our incredibly hard-working staffer incredibly hard-working volunteers you guys you you rocked through six christmas eve services with all of the details going on with all of the things happening and and we saw people come come back to church for the first time maybe since the the pandemic began saw new people come in and all those different things and so it was just just a time of joy and now we move into this season uh that’s in between christmas and new year that has always just fascinated me I’ve always found it intriguing so it’s this one other time where you still get to wear christmas sweaters and no one will look at you weird if you do

that on the 1st of july people will be angry trust me I’ve tried it so I’m still rocking my bob ross christmas sweater and it’s this season where you maybe lose track of time uh I just found some just wonderful like just thoughts on this on the internet the place where we get everything good just first to 26th of december is is festive it’s this joy it’s this excitement and then you get this weird period 27th december to the 31st of december where you’re confused this guy’s apparently full of cheese and he doesn’t even know what day of the week it is it’s it’s the time between christmas and new year’s and it’s the finding nemo fish it’s like well now what do we do it’s just it just feels a little strange and someone drew a calendar and you’ve got just like everything in between christmas and new year it’s just this blur until new year’s eve that the

dates don’t always make sense the weirdest five days of the year are the five days between christmas day and new year’s eve like what day is it do I have to work is school in session should I pour a drink at 10 a.m is it new years yet like what the what it just is this season where we can feel just the space now I’m always intrigued by how that works for different people so one of the theories I have about christmas is it’s what you might call a force multiplayer uh if the season for you if the year for you has been great then christmas comes along and it makes everything even better if it’s been tough uh then christmas comes along and it magnifies a lot of the toughness now this is a year like unlike any other hopefully and so all of that comes into play but I want you before we jump into some of this teaching we’re going to look at the idea of

space in the bible I’d love you just to use your imagination with me for a second just picture yourself for a second you’re sat on a chair in a room with a blanket over your knees and a drink in your hand now only you can tell me whether that is a good sort of imaginative imaginatory experience or a bad one maybe in your imagination you’re sat in a cozy chair with a warm cup of tea and just resting with a blanket and there’s nobody else around and that for you is like this joy maybe you sat by yourself in a cold apartment you haven’t bothered to turn the heat on and that’s why you have a blanket and the drink is is it’s a hard drink it’s something that you use maybe just to get through the day and that isn’t to criticize either but just depending on our experience our interpretation of that sort of picture it can just be way different maybe you’re a

busy parent that has just managed to get through the christmas season and now the space and you’ve got this imaginary imaginatory moment of being alone you’re like oh thank goodness I’m alone thank goodness the family are now out of town thank goodness everybody’s left I have been climbing out from under a pile of dishes for days and in this moment I’m just like ah nobody bother me to you this experience is just it’s just joyful maybe for some of the rest of us there’s that experience of ah someone invited me over on christmas day but now there’s nothing people are doing family things or they’re taking rest and and now there’s just this season that feels a little bit empty depending on where you’ve been depending on your journey depending on your experience of life this next few days is either a space to just rest or it’s a

space that just feels like there’s something missing in that imaginatory experience are you alone or are you lonely those are two very different very different things and so we wanted to take some time and just imagine or just think through some of the ways that the bible writers talk about the experience of space so we’re going to start with this passage in a book called malachi malachi is the last book of the old testament this group of people israel they have had God speaking to them for years and they’ve followed this sort of broad cycle they’ve done things well and then it’s gone badly because of their behavior and God has sent a prophet to either judah the one nation or israel the other nation and he’s come and the prophets made a difference the people have changed their behavior at least for a while and then malachi is the

last one and this is the last passage of the old testament see I will send the prophet elijah to you before the great and dreadful day of the lord comes he will turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the hearts of the children to their parents or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction and that’s the end if you have a paper copy of the bible in front of you you might look at that page malachi chapter 4 and then there’s just another page that says new testament and that’s when the Jesus story begins there’s this weird space of of 400 years where God doesn’t speak it’s it almost reminds me of that moment if you if you’ve had kids or you remember back to being a child where you were told by your parents you’ve got one more chance and you never quite believe them because they keep saying it and keep saying it and

keep saying it and there’s always another chance until there isn’t and this is this moment in the old testament the prophets have spoken these men have come and said this behavior doesn’t work God is not pleased this will this will go badly for you and then in this moment this is the moment of silence it’s it’s a gap a gap of 400 years where there is no voice of God that sounds quite a scary thing this to them was an entirely negative experience there was this sense of where has God gone in the midst of this it reminds me of uh just a couple of a couple of illustrations uh in the london underground system the subway in london the oldest one in the world you get these signs painted everywhere that say please mind the gap it’s that gap in between the train and the platform it’s a throwback to when they would have actual people

standing there saying to each person that came off gen sir please mind the gap madam please mind the gap and they realized after a while it was far easier to just record the message than to have hundreds of people just repeating this message over and over again but in this situation the gap it’s entirely negative it is a bad thing you if you’ve walked on a platform with kids you’re terrified about them getting into this gap in between train and platform like in this situation the gap is negative second one there’s this this incredibly unique area of the universe that scientists have found that has no stars it’s just a space it’s it’s not a gap it’s a it’s a void it’s empty of everything these two sort of like illustrations they they’re entirely negative right they’re they’re about absence they’re about you don’t want to end up in between these two somethings at the

idea of a cosmic void I actually find creepy and terrifying and again walking on a platform I’m always nervous about this weird gap and and these remind me of this moment in malachi or at the end of malachi at least where suddenly God is silent he’s suddenly not around anymore and if your imagination of being alone in this season when we so talked about sabbath been sat in a chair with nobody about if that was negative for you then maybe it reminds you a little bit of one of these two things maybe it feels like God is absent and space can do that space can make us feel like where where am I and where is God samuel beckett the writer has this story about two men waiting for a character called gutto and the idea is it’s supposed to be an allegory about waiting for garden at one point after sitting and having a conversation one of the two

men looks at the other and he says it’s terrible we sit here and nobody ever comes nobody arrives we just keep on waiting and maybe this space maybe that resonates with you a little bit but there’s other ways that space is explored by the biblical writers and I think one maybe even if you’ve had a negative experience this season one of them can actually be really helpful to us so we’re going to take a little while just to look at this wonderful word in the bible that’s mysterious this word selah it’s kind of like a space of its own in between sentences here’s a few examples this is from psalm 37 you are my hiding place you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance selah that’s the actual there’s a translation of the hebrew word it’s the way that they would have said it as well and in many of your bibles again if

you have a paper copy you might find that the the people that put it together just decided to leave this word out because it is mysterious because we’re not entirely sure what it means but but one of my favorite understandings of this word is this it simply means take a moment to consider that step back for a second let that kick you in the butt let that phrase grab hold of you let that moment be caught up in the space and let it let it say something different to you here’s a few other places that these people that put together this wonderful poetry and psalms found a place for salah this is psalm 24 who is he this king of glory the lord almighty he is the king of glory selah psalm chapter 3 but you o lord are a shield around me you are my glory the one who holds my head high be angry and do not sin this is psalm chapter four ponder in your own

hearts on your beds and be silent every one of these moments is this invitation to just experience space but in a good way realize that God is not absent he’s actually there in the middle of it with you which is wonderful news but do you notice something about each or not each one of these things but about these four examples they’re all different we looked at one from psalm 24 where it’s a celebration he is the king of glory the lord almighty he is the king of glory seller this person writing feels like he’s in God’s very presence he is excited he’s taking a moment to to pause and think about the wonder of this guard he worships but the one before it is one is a someone who’s talking about the need to be protected from trouble he needs a song of deliverance he’s looking for somewhere to hide he’s in a moment of stress in a moment

of struggle you are a shield around me you are my glory the one who lifts my head high salah this is the expression of someone who’s downcast there’s a God who comes alongside him and lifts his spirits up who brings him up to a better place this does all of these things going on in this experience and wherever you are you are invited I think my question for us this season would be what seller moment do you need you may have felt like God is absent right now and the truth is maybe he’s actually just silent or maybe we actually need space to listen maybe he’s been speaking all along but we actually haven’t been able to create the space and maybe this tension around this time of year for you it’s in order to get you to a place where you can listen maybe you like me are some would think like the character martha in the new testament

there’s mary and marth are two friends of Jesus and is great at sitting and listening and martha is one who’s always busy always has something to do and finds it just easy to get on with something I find myself like that I find it harder to sit and wait and listen for God than I do to write a sermon where I’m supposed to be talking about God or something like that it for me it just requires this just uh I have to force myself to do it at times maybe this season where suddenly there’s not the things to be busy about it creates an opportunity for you to listen and experience God’s presence again but whether christmas and this season have been negative for you or whether they’ve just been incredibly positive God has this moment of self for you it’s just a decision just to lean into it that’s an incredible invitation but something else that I think

connects with me in this with this idea of space and gaps I love the moment in the bible before a new idea is revealed when it transitions from something old to something new like some information is about to change and we’re about to get an opportunity to grasp that the world is different and this is ephesians chapter 2 verse 3. all of us lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts like the rest we were by nature deserving of wrath it’s this idea that people are broken you and I consistently go our own way and maybe you’re not someone who’s connected with this Jesus story you don’t see a need for it because you see a world where everybody’s a mess and it is true we are but in this verse here there’s about to be an invitation to something brand new the whole story is about to

change and it almost like it just hovers in silence for a little while and I almost feel that the longer you wait in the gap between this last word and the next word the better the next part becomes we were by nature deserving of wrath but because of his great love for us God who is rich in mercy made us alive with christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by grace you have been saved this wonderful pause this wonderful gap this wonderful void in between these two sentences leads from an old truth that we are by nature children of wrath into an incredible new truth that God is entirely interested in your deliverance and my deliverance he has made a way where there is no way before with all of the noise of christmas whether joy or whether the absence of joy for you at christmas there is regardless this invitation into this Jesus

story you may never have encountered it before you may have looked at it in the past and said no that’s not for me it doesn’t work and yet this Jesus person who transcends time and history who we still talk about in a present tense we don’t talk about how Jesus was people all over the world talk about Jesus is it’s like he’s still present because he is even though you may not know it it’s an invitation into that story and he’s constantly inviting inviting inviting constantly holding out a hand to you there’s this moment where the bible has a gap because it’s a new beginning I’m going to end up with a daft illustration because it doesn’t compare to the wonder of this Jesus story but my fantasy football team is finally out of the running in its competition and I’m a genius fantasy football player I’m wonderful at it and sure some of you are as well and if you

want to join a league with me next year then invite me away because I have endless energy for this thing but my main sort of thing that I main league that I play with my friends it’s it’s over for me it’s done and now I’m waiting for a new thing to begin I’m like oh there’s got to be something new and that’s a ridiculous example because it doesn’t compare to some of the experiences you guys are having that may be a negative at this time of year and yet Jesus specializes in doing new things he’s constantly inviting us into new things so whatever is going on for you this verse speaks of newness there’s this butt moment where God changes the narrative changes the story so in amongst this space we’d love to just give you time to experience him to know that he is present even if he feels absent to know that he speaks even

if he seems silent to know that he cares even if you’re not convinced that that’s true this season God loves you this morning we did just want to give you a moment to sit in that in between space and the song very much embodies what that is all about so as this song plays it just just acknowledge the presence of God wherever you are and that in between space in between christmas and new year and between a hard season and a maybe good season in between a good season and any other season to sit in this moment oh God as we enter new seasons as we think about what transitions are like as we think about what it is to start a new year God thank you that you are with us in that process when we’re a little bit nervous when we’re uncertain you are with us when we’re excited joyful moving forward and can hardly keep our excitement

down to a minimum you’re with us in each and every season you’re with us for our friends that are in winter you’re with us for our friends that feel like it’s summer and everything’s good you’re with us thank you amen thanks for joining us friends it was so good to have you here for living room liturgy it’s just a joy to just spend part of this season with you I’ve miraculously changed to a different sweater you’ll have to figure out how I did all that it was the magic of camera work this week coming up on the 3rd of january we’ve got a new season starting this new series starting that we’re super excited about it’s this series hindsight is 2020. we’re going to look back at this crazy year that was 2020 and we’re going to try and learn some lessons ask some questions about how we might live a different quality of life in 2021 to do that we’re

going to read this ancient letter to a church in philippi it’s a letter known as philippians it’s a letter from paul an apostle an important person in the church to a church that he’s started he’s planted and he has just some great life advice for them so we’re going to tap into that we’re going to learn to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus together which is just something we as a community are always trying to do now we’re going to have a different service times for our in-person services starting from this coming week we’re going to move back to two services because some of the regulations have changed again so we now can have a hundred people in this space with 25 available out in overflow so our services are going to head back to their normal nine o’clock and 10 45 time you do still need to register we’re very excited about

our plan to have kids ministry restart on january 17th we’re still looking for volunteers to help with that so if you can jump in and fill that spot we would love you to do that but exciting news two services nine and 10 45 new series hindsight is 20 20 starting on january 3rd looking forward to seeing you there

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