URC Daily Devotion 2 January 2023

Monday 2 January 2023  
Who Would Think That What Was Needed? 

“Who Would Think That What Was Needed?” is a modern Christmas carol written by John Bell and Graham Maule of the Iona Community in Scotland.  It is usually paired with the tune Scarlet Ribbons.  You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwCyLamhFrk

Who would think that what was needed
To transform and save the earth
Might not be a plan or army,
Proud in purpose, proved in worth?
Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.

2: Shepherds watch and wise men wonder,
Monarchs scorn and angels sing;
Such a place as none would reckon
Hosts a holy helpless thing;
Stable beasts and by-passed strangers
Watch a baby laid in hay:
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day.

3: Centuries of skill and science
Span the past from which we move,
Yet experience questions whether,
With such progress, we improve.
While the human lot we ponder,
Lest our hopes and humour fray,
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day.

©1987  WGRG, Iona Community, Govan, Glasgow G51 3UU, Scotland

Philippians 2: 5 – 8
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

As we begin to settle into the New Year and convey the festive season to the past, many of us will probably be wondering what 2023 will bring. Will it be for us and for the world better or worse than the last one? Only time will tell.

As we reflect on the year that’s past, for some it may have been all too easy to let hopes and humour fray. Perhaps the enforced conviviality of the festive season rubbed us up the wrong way and it all got just too much. Maybe loneliness or despair were reinforced. We might be relieved to put all of that short time behind us and get on with our everyday routine life.

Many thousands, forced from their homes by war, famine or flood cannot put the events of the past year behind them and will be desperately hoping for some normality in their lives, not just for a short season, but as routine everyday life.

Despite centuries of skill and science spanning the past from which we move, we are still at the mercy of the elemental forces of nature and of the cruelty and hard-heartedness of some human beings. With such progress have we have improved? We know much more about the world and the universe. Science has led to unimaginable technologies which can do much more than we have ever been able to do. And yet for so many, the quality of life is little better than that of our distant ancestors.

Is it that human beings have not changed? As Christians, have we failed to show how God can surprise earth with heaven, inspiring us to humble ourselves and become obedient, to demonstrate that the earth and fellow humans are not something to be exploited but cherished?

Perhaps a child can lead the way. 

Prayer (Psalm 71: 14-16)
I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon.  He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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