Posted by Craig Borlase on 31 December 2014

What lies ahead for us in the next twelve months? It’s impossible to say. After all, who’d heard of Ebola and ISIS this time last year? Any prediction of how 2014 would turn out would surely have failed to flag up these two defining elements.

And yet, while we don’t know what tragedies and unexpected events lie ahead in the coming year, we know how we will respond. And it will be the same way that the Church always has responded.

Wind the clock back a little under two thousand years and you find the early church existing as a fluid, dynamic group who were inspired to make bold changes and grand gestures. During the first century Christians made a significant change to their meetings. Instead of continuing the Jewish tradition of meeting on a Saturday, their main gatherings started to take place on a Sunday. For a Jew this made little sense at all; why shift the Sabbath day from its traditional position at what was commonly regarded as the end of the week? Why stop imitating God who – as the Genesis story reminds us – also rested at the end of the first week?

For the Christians, however, the choice of Sunday as Sabbath was deliberate and full of meaning. To meet on the symbolic first day of the week aligned the church with God’s transformation of the darkness, with the very start of his creation, as it bound them in to the day on which Christ rose from the dead, and it is clear that the early church placed transformation at the very heart of their beliefs.

They found life in death. They did not flee from it or try and ignore it. On the anniversary of the birth – or death – of a fellow believer they would gather at the graveside to share a ritual meal. They tipped fish, bread, cakes and wine over the tomb and called out ‘Vibas!’ (Live!). They were not aiming for resurrection, but instead took a wholly different view of death to that which was found in most of the centuries to come.

Death really had lost its sting.

So whatever 2015 holds in store for us, let’s remember that there really is nothing it can throw at us that we need to fear or retreat from. Instead, we can be confident that God’s power, love and transformation is enough. It always has been. And it always will be.

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