Through Many Dangers Toils and Snares
Amazing Grace was written by John Newton as a New Year's song. It's original title, which I like quite a bit better, was "Faith's Review and Expectation." The idea was to finish the previous year by looking back at all God had led you through (faith's review); and to look ahead with hope for more grace to come (faith's expectation). It's a wonderful idea, and we have made it our practice at New City to sing Amazing Grace as our last song to close the year, and our first song in the new year -- bookending the year singing of God's grace.
I've been thinking a lot of about the line "through many dangers, toils and snares" while reading Jonathan Aitken's biography of Newton. Disappointment, difficulty and tragedy marked Newton's early years. And the truth was, life never really was all that easy for him. Personally, he suffered quite a bit, but even more, he helped to bear the burdens of many who suffered around him. He really believed God's grace had brought him through; but what strikes me more, is that he always expected there would be more challenges in years to come. Newton was just counting on enough grace to meet him in the midst of it too.
I bring all this up because of the closing bit from this week's sermon on Luke 2:41-52. We talked about the humanity of Jesus (contra Apollinarianism), as well as the uniqueness of Jesus. But I also lingered a bit on Mary's words in verse 48, "Son, why have you treated us so?" I said that if I were a betting man, I'd wager that sometime this next year, you're going to say (or think) something like this -- Jesus, why are you treating me so?
Apparently this struck a chord, because many folks came up to talk afterwards, sharing that they are in the thick of "dangers, toils and snares," even now. And for others, they could see something like it on the horizon. My hope and prayer for us all this year is that we could do as Mary did, and "treasure up" what we know of Jesus (faith's review), in order to receive sustaining hope (faith's expectation). And in addition, that we would show up for each other (with encouragement, tears, meals and prayer) when we see each other in hard places.
December 2021 Highlights
- The Christmas Store served a record number of children and families (540 gifts purchased for 270 kids)
- We had our annual Christmas Party and Hymnsing, and a good time was had by all
- The Student Ministry finished out a successful first semester with all kinds of momentum and growth
- New City Kids led us in signing during worship and worked on Jesse Trees and we had 33 babies born in 2021
- December was our best giving month ever in the 12 year history of the church -- thank you for your generosity!
Our Epiphany sermon series is under way in the early chapters of Luke.
- 01/02 -- (1) Can We Trust This Story? (Luke 1:1-4)
- 01/09 -- (2) The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:41-52)
- 01/16 -- (3) Prepare the Way (Luke 3:1-22)
- 01/23 -- (4) The Wilderness (Luke 4:1-13)
- 01/30 -- (5) Good News to the Poor (Luke 4:14-30)
- 02/06 -- (6) Missio Dei (Luke 5:1-26)
- 02/13 -- (7) Friend of Sinners (Luke 5:27-32)
- 02/20 -- (8) Feasts and Fasts (Luke 5:33-39)
- 02/27 -- (9) Work and Rest (Luke 6:1-11)