Time Stand Still
This weekend finds us in midsummer once again. Today (Saturday 20th June) is known as the longest day when we enjoy more daylight than at any other time of the year. It is a time that many of us have looked forward to, and try to make the most of these few weeks of summer. The weather has indeed been glorious lately, but from now on the days will get shorter and the nights will grow inexorably longer. As we contemplate the thought of a long Harris winter – it be might be a welcome thought for the Sun to stand still for a while – quite a while!
I was reminded of that curious and certainly unique story in Joshua 10 when Joshua the commander of Israel, actually asked God to make the Sun stand still for a time ;
On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon. ”
So the Sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, ( Joshua 10:12-13)
Any weather forecaster will tell you this is impossible. But our God is the God of the impossible. What we see in this passage is God intervention at a crucial moment to give his people victory over their enemies. Some see that in this passage, the day was lengthened to make Israel’s rout of the enemy more complete, and give them longer daylight hours to achieve victory. Some others are of the view that Joshua asked that the Sun become cooler during the day time to make it easier for Joshua’s tired army to achieve victory without the relentless middle eastern Sun beating down on them. How this happened, we do not know. What we know for sure is that God intervened in the ordinary course of nature at exactly the right moment to give the Israelites victory over their enemies. As the writer of Joshua points out, the greatest marvel lies not in the occurrence of the miracle itself but that “the LORD heeded the voice of a man” (Josh. 10:14).
Let us not think as so many do of God as a god to be manipulated and controlled. This passage shows that God had a purpose in what he was doing. Joshua 10: 12-15 is depicting one of the greatest battles in history – when God deliberately intervened on behalf of his people.
What does this remarkable passage show us? – Well, it shows us, I would say that only the things the Lord accomplishes for us are our real victories in life. The actual achievements to be thankful for are the things we can’t do ourselves. It is at our times of greatest weakness and need that God very often intervenes to help. These instances when we can say like Samuel, that “..hitherto hath the Lord helped us” ( 1 Samuel 7:12) These last weeks have been such a time for us when we have to be thankful for God’s grace and mercy to us as a community during this challenging season.
The screen-shot above is the front page of our intimation sheet on 15th March 2020. We have not met since then in the church for worship due to the closure of church buildings due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I have been in the church a few times since then, and have always been struck by the fact that time seems to have stood still in the building. The wall clock in the main sanctuary is an hour slow, as it has not been changed to British Summer Time at the end of March. Other than Government posters and the hand sanitiser at the door things seem very much the way they were since early spring. What strikes me immediately though is the pile of intimation sheets at the church and hall doors dated 15th March 2020. Does nothing much seem to have happened since then?
Well, the fact is that plenty has happened since then. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have had to do things differently, and by all accounts will have to continue to do things differently for some time to come. In this time, we have had to adapt to a whole new way of ministry and doing church. Zoom has become part of the weekly vocabulary of many people in Harris as well as elsewhere. We are thrilled to see how many are joining in with the services on Zoom each week. Thus far, the services have been relatively basic, but hopefully, that will change in the time to come. I have had to get used to recording and editing video sermons and uploading to our own new Youtube channel, as well as embedding the video on our website. Daily Bible readings, have gone up on the website for a time and may return in another form in the future. Although a number of the fabric related jobs we hoped to proceed within 2020 have had to be shelved, I am glad to say that the church and grounds are in great shape. A very big thank you to Campbell and Karen for spending hours, indeed days of hard work on the Church grounds, the undercroft and the exterior lighting.
There is, however, still some time before we can meet in the way we used to. Although we are now in phase two of the Scottish Government’s route map for returning to worship, it looks as if it will still be some months before we will be able to return to any semblance of normality in worship.
Tomorrow though we will meet together on Zoom as usual. There will be no video recorded sermon going out tomorrow, as in the morning we will have a virtual family service to mark the end of the Sunday school year. The theme for the Service is “ How Great is Our God ! ”. if ever there was a time when we have to be reminded of and give thanks for the fact that our God is greater than any of the challenges we face it is now. This will be reflected in our Bible readings, singing and the three short talks which are entitled :
‘Our God is a Great Big God’
‘There’s no one like our God.’
‘All Things are Possible’
We look forward to welcoming all ages to the Service tomorrow and are very happy a good cross-section of young people will be taking part in the Service. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you are not on our mailing list for the Zoom meetings, please drop us a line HERE to be sent a link.