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Annus Mirabilis - The Sequel
January 23, 2018

“Annus Mirabilis” – The Sequel
a letter from the Pastor


I am shocked. I have just sat down to write this letter to be included in our 2017 Annual Report and so I opened last year’s report to remind me of what I had written. I am shocked. I had forgotten that my 2016 letter was entitled “Annus Mirabilis.”

In that letter I quoted Queen Elizabeth II’s speech on November 24, 1992, in which she referred to 1992 as an Annus Horribilis, a horrible year. I continued …

“How would you describe 2016 at St. Andrew’s & St. Stephen’s?

I hope and pray that none of us would use such a gloomy phrase as I have summarized above, but when darkness does its best to overcome light, it’s hard not to become a bit gloomy. … I would be overstating things to call 2016 an Annus Horribilis, but it was definitely not the best year I have ever had, as a minister. Darkness appeared to have its way far too often.”

I am shocked. When I wrote that reflecting on 2016 I had no idea that for me personally 2017 was going to be even worse. 2017 was indeed a terrible sequel to my 2016 Annus Horribilis.

How could this have happened? I invited us to pray this time last year for an Annus Mirabilis. I asked “will you join me in that prayer?” I prayed for a wonderful year, a miraculous year, an amazing year. So did you. What happened?

I am shocked. 2017 appeared to get darker and darker each and every month. What is going on Lord?

Perhaps the key to unraveling this mystery is the question I asked later in my letter.

“How might that prayer be answered?”

Perhaps God answered my prayer, your prayers in ways that none of us expected. Perhaps His Light did indeed shine. Of course His Light shone. But to see the Light you need to open your eyes!

One of the areas of ministry that I have always been passionate about is discipleship. I want peoples’ faith to deepen so much so that they are visibly becoming more and more like Jesus each and every day, in their speech, thoughts and actions. One of the signs of that, for me, is when people can just not stop themselves telling others about Jesus, how He is working in their lives, how He is blessing them, how He has blessed them.

Perhaps when people become more mature as disciples of Jesus, and as such their witness to Jesus becomes more and more obvious, then darkness will try its utmost to overcome that light. But it will NOT. It never will. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness will NEVER EVER overcome it. Ever!

This year I have seen people shrouded in darkness due to an unexpected diagnosis. I have walked with people through the death of a loved one. I have heard the cries of despair from the depths of depression. I have seen the pain on peoples’ faces due to the trials and troubles they face in life. Sometimes it might well appear that darkness is winning, but then all I have to do is wipe away the tears and open my eyes. Because time and time and time again I see the light shine from a brother or sister in Christ, who is clinging to their Lord and Saviour, because their hope is firmly founded in Him, no matter what. I have heard the stories, correction the love, expressed by fellow disciples who don’t waste their energies looking for answers, but rather steep themselves in the life giving Word of the Living God. And their witness is plain to see. Evangelism for me was always a scary word. I think that’s because I confused evangelism with apologetics. I think I assumed for many years that in order to be an evangel you first and foremost needed to have all the answers to every single question that could come your way about faith. No you don’t. Evangelism is quite simply about sharing good news that will cause great joy in all people. Evangelism is about sharing your life with others. Evangelism is about telling others who Jesus is to you.

I think this past Christmas I have been more struck than ever before by the shepherds. They were uneducated and so far from anyone’s first choice at getting the next job in evangelism. Yet having come to the manger their immediate response was to go and tell others about their experience.

They saw the Lord. They experienced the light, and so they shared what they had seen, what they had heard, what they had experienced with others.

I could do that. You can do that. We all can do that.

What will make 2018 an annus mirabilis? Answer, share your faith. Witness to our Lord and Saviour, no matter  what. When we do that The Light shines and the darkness is overcome.

This past year I have seen people whose lives are being beaten by the darkness but they are growing stronger because of their faith-walk following Jesus, steeping themselves in the life-giving Word. That is something to celebrate. My prayers are being answered in ways I least expected. But there are so many other people outside of our church walls whose lives are shrouded in darkness and they are literally being beaten down because they have no light. More to the point they have no one to share the light with them.

Recently I went to a memorial service at Fairview of a man who was an incredible mentor to me during my studies to become a minister. The presiding minister, Brad, told the story about hosting a birthday party at their church at which one little boy asked his mum, “what is this building?” “It’s a church,” she replied, to which the boy then asked, “what’s a church?”

What’s a church?” Some people might think a church is all about gathering on Sundays for worship. Some might think it is about managing a balanced budget. Some might argue it’s about ministering to the needs of its members. These aspects are all important and this is the time of the year we thank so many people for their incredible work in helping us do those things. In particular I want to thank the Board for everything they do in maintaining this building, managing the groups that use our facilities and keeping watch over our finances. The Board that we have here at SASS are second to none, and what’s more the incredible work that Steve does behind the scenes, on days when no one is here is such a blessing to us. Steve welcomes people in to our building four nights every week. His light shines day after day. Thank you Steve. We have a church to be proud of, if we should be proud. The ministries that happen here in this building are wonderful and I want to thank the many many volunteers for their incredible efforts, year round. Thank you to Daniel and Angela for being such an integral part of the ministry here at SASS. But our church is not limited to what happens here at this location, in this building. Far from it! Our church is you and me, together, sharing the good news about a great joy with all people, everywhere.

“What is a church?” Kids are growing up having no idea what a church is. We might deny it, we might laugh at it, we might even shrug our shoulders when we hear that story. I want to cry. The fact is darkness will be able to shroud people unless someone shines the light, the light that will overcome their darkness every single time.

This year, I am asking the same question I asked last year.

Will you pray with me?

Lord Jesus, grant us courage to share You as often as we can with others. Lord Jesus, grant us opportunities to speak in to peoples’ lives who are shrouded in darkness so that we can shine Your Light over them. Lord, help us, individually and collectively, to have an Annus Mirabilis, soli Deo Gloria.


Your brother in Christ,

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