Far from being a cliché, the adage that a lot can happen in the space of a week, really does ring true. Little did we know that Hackney's Youth Week of Prayer, held during 7-14 March, would be our last gathering together before the closure of all churches due to the coronavirus which has now become an epidemic. While what we are presently experiencing is unprecedented and the times uncertain, the one thing that remains unchanged is that the God of Heaven is still in control of our planet earth and with arms wide open, is ever ready to receive us into His loving embrace. Each of the inspiring messages given by guest speaker, Elder Clarence Jackson, attested to that fact.
Addressing the youth, Elder Jackson, who is author of The Journey from Yard to Broad, reminded them of the importance of using the gifts God has given them as a witness to those who need to know Him but also in spiritually building up the body of Christ. "Once you know your calling in Christ, you are to work in it with excellence, giving God the very best service. You are not to allow fear to cripple you because God has notgiven us a spirit of fear, but one of love, power and a sound mind," said Jackson.
In a message geared to everyone, Jackson, who is also affectionately known as the 'Poetic Preacher', reminded the church of the responsibility they have in accepting every young person who returns from 'a far country' with open arms and a loving embrace, free from judgement as to do so is pleasing to God − their Father and Creator. Jackson said, "We must be like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He had a heart of forgiveness and upon seeing his son, with open arms he ran to and fully embraced his returning child. In like manner, we are to give our returning children the best robe, the best food and the best seat. There are many we have written off that will make it into the Kingdom even at our expense if we are not careful."
In messages that followed during the week, Elder Jackson reminded us all the lessons we could learn from those seemingly insignificant characters in the Bible who became significant through the acts of faith they demonstrated. From the men who tore off the roof to lower down the bed upon whom laid the crippled man to the woman plagued with an issue of blood who was made whole after pressing forward in faith to touch the hem of Jesus' garment, Jackson told the church to do likewise. He said, "When you build and act upon your faith in Jesus, He will make you experience victory in your life and enable you to overcome every obstacle and trial that comes your way."
As the time came for Hackney's youth and church to give Elder Jackson and each other a final embrace, albeit one from a social distance, Jackson encouraged all to "be the person God created you to be and always live a life of purpose on purpose." And with all that is currently taking place in the world right now, what a great opportunity we have been given to be and do just that.