As we begin a new year, most of us will hope and pray for a year ahead where we can enjoy happiness and security for our families and friends. Unfortunately, the future can never be certain and C.S. Lewis helpfully explains why in his book, The Problem with Pain, “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us…Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
In this world we are not home, but we struggle to remember this and continue to crave comfort, knowing that it can never be permanently achieved. It is our constant challenge to maintain an eternal perspective, no matter where life’s journey takes us.
Amy Carmichael was someone who seemed to grasp this better than most. Even as a young child, she committed her life fully to God and His service. Despite the comfort and security that she knew, growing up in a well-off family, she put others’ needs before her own, stepping out on a missionary journey that was remarkably courageous for a young single woman of her time.
December 2017 marked the 150th anniversary of Amy’s birth. PCI will be holding a special event in April to commemorate her life (details on p.20). In this issue, we look back on the legacy she left; artist Ross Wilson explains his inspiration for his sculpture of Amy which was recently unveiled and now stands outside Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor.
Our desire for comfort can discourage us from thinking outside of ourselves, leading us to disregard important issues, such as our attitude to caring for our planet. PCI has a new Stewardship of Creation Panel, created to encourage churches and their members to consider creation care and Rev. John Hanson is its convener. This month Rebecca McConnell interviews John and discovers that he has made a number of lifestyle choices to ensure that he is walking the talk on this crucial topic.
Although this earth is not our final home, it surely must grieve God’s heart that we do not look after it as we ought. It is perhaps ironic that while we cling to this world and all it offers, we do not nurture and preserve it.
Amy Carmichael lived knowing she was not home yet. Her following words continue to challenge us of this fact. “We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don’t wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has.”
The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.
To find out more go to www.presbyterianireland.org/herald