How quickly summer seems to come and go. As I write this, I am sitting with our log burner on for first time since April. Autumn has surely come. I do hope many of you had some of the summer sunshine and the wet days didn’t dampen or spoil your holiday.

I have been asked to write about 2020: many of you will have heard the saying 20/20 vision. But what is it?

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet………………………… If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

If you Google 20/20 vision you will find hundreds of churches looking ahead to year 2020 using the tag name 20/20 vision.  But I’ve chosen three Bible passages each from chapter 20 verse 20, to reflect upon. I am using the Good News Translation Bible

1.   Ezekiel chapter 20 v 20

“Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the LORD your God.”

Surely this is something we as church members must feel called to do. For today in Scotland recent survey tells us “Most people in Scotland self-identify as non-religious (59%)” Let us as Maxwelltown West Church rise up to the challenge of offering people IN OUR Parish and Dumfries the opportunity to “come, taste and see The Lord is Good” Ps 34. Your Parish Profile is the beginning of a new journey for Maxwelltown West Church and we can and must all be willing to support our next Minister.

2.  Gospel of St John ch 20 v 20

“Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord”

As we come to church on Sunday as Ezekiel calls us to, let us come with the same joy as the Disciples had when they first saw Jesus was alive and amongst them. Sure we have all had Thomas’s doubts, but equally so we also have proclaimed as Thomas did “My Lord and My God”. Let us feel the awe of God as we approach him and be filled with joy as Jesus calls us to him.

3. Acts ch 20 v 20

“You know that I did not hold back anything that would be of help to you as I preached and taught in public and in your homes.”

Here we meet St Paul as he speaks to the Elders of Ephesus. He was sad and left them in tears. St Paul reminded them that he gave his all to the Mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus to the people in Ephesus. And so it is with us in 2020 as we approach the New Decade and indeed New Year. Our much loved MaxWest Church is in the early stages of planning for our future: probably fewer Presbyteries, fewer Churches, but armed with the power and love of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit I for one look positively to the future of our beloved Church of Scotland. The Trustees of the Assembly are already working hard to map out the journey ahead. Sure, the road will be rough and sometimes steep to climb or accept but let us never forget Jesus suffered the humiliation, agony and ultimate death upon the Cross for our sake. He died so that we might live “Life in all its fullness”. Let us “Look Forward in Faith” as Rev. Scobie wrote in his uplifting hymn of the same name.

Here is a prayer I invite you to pray over the coming year.

Send your Spirit, O God,

To open our eyes…That we might see clearly your gifts and blessings, past and present, and so be filled with gratitude.

To open our eyes… That we might see clearly where we have failed to proclaim the Good News and welcome the stranger, and so be moved to ongoing conversion.

To open our eyes… That we might see clearly the signs of the times, and where your Christ lies hidden at the margins, and so see where and how we are being called to serve.

To open our eyes… That we might see clearly the vision that you, O God, have for us, as Maxwelltown Church.

Yes, O God, send us your Spirit In a new Pentecost:

Renew our hearts, Renew our Church, Renew our world. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

So, as 2019 draws rapidly to a close we come once again to the season of Advent leading to Christmas. I can hear you all singing Away in a Manger as you read ‘Christmas’, and indeed please come to church and join us as we joyfully gather in Maxwelltown West to sing our favourite Carols and remember the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and God’s greatest gift to humankind – Baby Jesus. May 2020 bring you great joy and good health.

God Bless you all,

David Matheson