We had our weekly meeting of The Big Adventure yesterday afternoon, our online SU group for P5-7 which started in January. There are 6-9 children who come along each week - it is a lot of fun! We have been going through the God's Got This resource that was written last term for SU groups to use during these restricted months, which includes narratives about Joseph, Elijah and Paul, all who lived through some sort of lockdown experience. Of course, the good news is in the title: God’s got this… he really does! These words aren’t glib, they aren’t dismissive or shallow. They are profoundly true…whatever the circumstances are or have been for each of us through all of this… and I know for some, these have been and still are deeply painful.
In our time together yesterday, we were reminded that the Apostle Paul was no stranger to lockdown. He spent two years in prison under guard in Caesarea, albeit with some contact with friends. (Acts 24:23) And as if that wasn’t enough, a treacherous journey by sea – which included a shipwreck and some poisonous snakes - eventually took him to Rome where he “was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.” (Acts 28:16) The Acts of the Apostles finishes with this: “For two whole years Paul stayed in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:30.31) Not only that, but he wrote the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, as well as to Philemon.
As we chatted about this with the children, we were considering what we know to be good news about Jesus. Even if it is just one thing, let’s share that! “God is hope”, “He loves us”, “Jesus died and rose again”, “He forgives us”, “Jesus cares about us” were the immediate thoughts shared by the group. Take any one of these declarations and we see how important and impactful a message it is for all of us during this pandemic.
This may sound obvious, but it is worth reading through Paul’s prison letters, remembering that he was in prison when he wrote them! There are too many themes to share but here is one:
“Jesus is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
Click read to read that full section on the supremacy of the Son of God.
I’m amazed to consider how much of the Bible was written by people who knew the realities of some sort of lockdown, whether in a desert, a cave, in hiding, down a well, in prison, under house arrest or imprisoned on a remote island. Yet what seems to have come out of these experiences was the conviction that ... God really has got this. We see from the Colossians passage above and from Scripture as a whole that nothing is lost in God’s economy. Nothing. That’s why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is such good news. That’s why Paul wrote in such clear and emphatic terms about who Jesus is and the hope we have in him.
That’s also possibly why we can begin to understand Paul’s exhortation (in lockdown) to “always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippian 4:4
If you click on SHINE Online | Scripture Union Scotland (suscotland.org.uk), you’ll read about a training event SU Scotland is running with SU England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland for S1-6 on 5 March. The advert opens with “COVID-19 can stop a lot of things, but it can't stop us sharing our faith with our best friends!” The Apostle Paul would have agreed.