As we begin this New Year, which is a pivotal one in the life of the church here, I believe Haggai has a lot to say to us. God wants to speak to us and challenge us and bring renewal within us by his Spirit. God wants to renew us. In fact renewal is going to be the overarching theme for the year. Renew your people O God, Renew us. Haggai I believe opens that up by calling God’s people then, and you’ll notice that Haggai speaks to a very concrete time and place each of his prophecies is very time specific, and now, because it is the timeless word of God, to renewed priorities, in the face of hard economic realities, renewed courage and vision when it all seems too much, and at the core of it all renewed relationship with God. My prayer is in the midst of that we might encounter God in a new way, the you and I may be renewed.
I don’t know about you but the way Haggai describes the result of that policy that priority sounds rather familiar. Their focus was on materialistic things but the reality of these things was not living up to their promise. They had food but were never full, drink but it never quenched their thirst, they never had enough cloths, and despite earning wages it was like putting them in a purse with a hole in it. I don’t know about you but is sounds like the economic reality we live in today. You expected much says Haggai, but see, it turned out to be little.
We often think of the Church as a building but as it says in 1 Peter you and I are living stones built into the dwelling place of God. Photo mosaics is a process, computer programme that makes an image up from smaller images. I took the Photo of our church that appears on our website and put it through a free Photo mosaic programme using photos from the website of people who come to church to help us to visualise and to understand that we are the church. It's not as clear as the other image because we are being called to the mission of growing our church as we share our faith both communally and individuality with the people round us.
The record of Haggai’s oracle finishes by saying that Spirit of Zerubbabel was stirred up, that the spirit of Joshua was stirred up and that the spirit of the people was stirred up for this new thing and they came and began the task of rebuilding the house of God. You’ll notice it didn’t happen right away they spent twenty four days of that month thinking it through wrestling with it and planning and getting ready. One of the ways that the people were stirred up was in a spirit of volunteerism, the temple had been built by forced labour in Solomon’s day and now it was the people themselves who were going to do the work. It stirred up vision and courage within the leadership.