On Sunday in our two services, we looked at Amos 3-4. It was difficult to get the full sense of Amos’ portrayal of the passion of God, who was trying to get the attention of his own people in ways that we might feel were extreme. The disasters that they had coped with, Amos says, were God’s way of trying to get their attention. They are not the actions of a vengeful God, though it would be easy to think that at first. They are the actions of someone who desperately loves a people. It’s extreme love.
The writer to the Hebrews will say the same in chapter 12 when he urges us to ‘endure hardship as discipline’. In other words, see the situations you are facing as opportunities to grow – to be trained in a certain way. It was interesting to hear the children reflect on what they thought their parents were doing when they discipline them. Once we had got the off the cuff remark, ‘They are ruining our lives’ out of the way, there were some very profound thoughts coming through.
And that is what the writer is saying in Hebrews – the hard times that you are experiencing are exactly because God loves you.
The art, in this as in so many things, is to be alert to the voice and actions of God. Sometimes in dealing with our situations, it’s all we can do to stop yelling, ‘Make it end’. But if we still ourselves enough we might hear another voice: ‘It’s ok. You’ll be ok. It’s happening because I love you, come back and listen to me again. I want to train you to deal with times like these.’
We used a number of different film clips and songs in the different services. Here is a reminder of what we used:
We used a couple of clips to think about what it means to hear something and then what distracts us – we had recognised that always being glued to the screen can be a problem (yes I realise the irony!)…
Let’s have ears to hear more, eyes to recognise more and hearts to trust more – that no matter what we are going through, God is waving his arms at us desperately trying to get our attention.