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Sabbath Reflection #7: Persistence

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 25:1-6
Take some time to read Jeremiah 25:1-6 (or even the whole chapter) and make a note of what stands out to you. What does the reading tell you about God the Father, Son and Spirit? What does it tell you about people and/or yourself?

(Adapted from Run with the Horses, by Eugene H. Peterson, 2009, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, pp.107-117.)

The prophet Jeremiah lived in a time of change when the tiny kingdom of Judah was caught in the middle of a power struggle between Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. This positioning put the people of Judah under threat but, having witnessed Jerusalem’s survival from destruction a century earlier, they had a sense of invincibility. They also had a stubbornness that had withstood God’s patience for a long time, but in chapter 25 of Jeremiah we see the beginning of the end of this patience.

Jeremiah was clear-sighted and candid in his judgement of what was happening around him. A man of God who worshipped the spirit within him, Jeremiah was a lone prophet who stood out as an exemplar of one who had a close, personal walk with God. And he was a man with an incredible amount of persistence.

In the middle of the book of Jeremiah – and the midpoint of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry – chapter 25 verse 3 says: ‘for twenty-three years…the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.’ Twenty-three years is a long time to be delivering the same message with no response. But Jeremiah was not stuck in a rut, rather he was committed to a purpose. There are at least ten other instances in the book of Jeremiah where he tells of having such persistence, a dusk-until-dawn tireless effort to speak God’s words to the hearts of those in Judah. And even though they don’t listen, Jeremiah persists every day – not with the fear of being rejected again, rather with the knowledge that he gets to spend another day in the service of his King. And over time this persistence amounts to a life of tenacity and stamina; it shows a faithfulness that contrasts with the erratic and impulsive nature of those around him.

The work of the Lord can take time, but Eugene Peterson suggests that we tend to let ‘[o]ur compulsive timetables collide with God’s leisurely providence’ (p.98). So as our Sabbath month draws to a close and we anticipate what lies ahead, we can take great encouragement from the life of Jeremiah. Rather than looking at the long road ahead, it is sometimes wise to just look at today and be faithful to the opportunities God brings. And then tomorrow we can do the same. And then the day after that…well, you get the picture.

Where is God calling you to have greater patience or perseverance? Do you tend to look too far ahead and miss the opportunities God gives you in the moment? Read more of Jeremiah’s story (or Eugene Peterson’s book, perhaps) and see what God might be saying to you about faithfulness and persistence.

Thank God for His divine purposes in which He invites us to play a part. Spend some time in quiet reflection, receptive to hearing what God might be calling you to be or do today.

– Kirrily

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Additional Note
What We Believe

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.

We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History

In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.

With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.

We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.