Advent 2020


Hope in the blessing

At the beginning of this year, 2020, like many people, I am sure, I was asking God for inspiration for the next decade. I felt a responsibility to inspire my church with ‘a word’ which would stir vision towards 2030! 

Honestly, I wanted God to give me something impressive that would "rally the troops" for the next ten years. I was surprised when I felt the only passage God led me to was the ancient wisdom of Psalm 1. 

"Blessed is the one

   who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

   or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

   and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

   which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither – 

   whatever they do prospers."

(Psalm 1:1-3)

Specifically, I visualized the picture of a tree standing firm. It was drawing nourishment from the river through its deep root system, bearing fruit in a season where everything else was blowing around noisily and aggressively. 

Accompanying this picture, I heard what seemed the gentle whisper of the Father: ‘Be like that tree, son. Stay rooted. Hold your nerve, draw into my presence, hold your ground and you will bear fruit.’ 

Initially, it didn’t seem inspiring or dramatic enough to mark the beginning of a new decade, and yet, as 2020 has unfolded, I realized it was deeply prophetic. I have allowed these words to wash over my soul almost weekly since. 

As we approach Christmas and we look back on this turbulent year, what if our primary witness to the world is less connected to our busy church activities? What if we reflected on our ability to stand firm as people of real spiritual substance and depth? 

What if we can come back stronger as the church of Jesus Christ in these days because we are coming back deeper? A people rooted in a different source, bearing the fruits of another kingdom. 

Alain Emerson, Irish National Director of 24-7 Prayer and one of the lead pastors at Emmanuel Church in Portadown, Northern Ireland.