‘Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

I’ve found myself often reflecting this year on Paul’s words to Timothy. In many respects, this year has felt like one in which we, as a local church, have been ‘bound’. Constrained to our homes, restricted in our social interactions and limited in our capacities. However, I take heart that, even from prison, Paul could rejoice in the truth that the power for salvation was not in his abilities nor in his physical freedom, but rather, in the word of God going forth in the power of the Spirit.

Despite the many difficulties this year has brought I continue to be encouraged by how the Lord is graciously at work in our midst. I am heartened to hear about evangelistic conversations. I am encouraged to see people excited about mission, both local and global. I am delighted by the new lease of life that we are experiencing when it comes to prayer. I am thrilled to hear stories of the lengths people are going to provide pastoral care. I am excited at the thought of more people being identified and released into vocational gospel ministry. I am relishing the thought of gathering together once again.

There are many reasons to be prayerfully expectant as we journey into 2021. However, through it all, let us continue to strive to be a united and diverse community of disciples that is shaped and built up by the word of God.

Graeme Shanks

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