It is said about the incarnation, that those expecting a shout when Messiah came missed his coming because he came in a whisper.
I was reminded of this yesterday when attending two separate events in London.
The first was the launch event for Magnify, which was organised by Langham Partnership. It was held at the iconic All Souls Langham Place, nestled next to the BBC, and the birthplace of the ministries that now come under the Langham umbrella.
The aim of this event was to highlight the importance and value of following the example of Langham founder John Stott in investing in the development of scholarship, good books and preaching in the majority world.
I was struck by the statistic that one Langham scholar completing a PhD was likely to have an impact on nearly 10,000 other people. What an exciting prospect!
It was also a joy to meet Peter Pener, who stepped in as the editor of the recently released Central and Eastern European Bible Commentary, when the General Editor, Corneliu Constantineanu unexpectedly died with Covid.
All the talk of this book being a landmark publication is justified. Scholars from the Baltics to the Balkans have produced a Bible commentary for the people of Central and Eastern Europe by the people of that region. It is so encouraging to hear these voices, so long muffled by communistic suppression, speaking in their own distinctive voices with freshness and insight.
The second event was celebration of 100 years of the FIEC held at Westminster Chapel.
Inevitably there was some gentle nostalgia on display here, but the overall tone was one of thankfulness to God for his goodness in the past, rejoicing that the work had grown from a handful of 17 churches and mission halls in 1922 to over 600 in 1923.
There was also a clear sign that the FIEC was looking forward, indicated by the publication of Pray For One Hundred which chronicles 100 Gospel initiatives in FIEC churches throughout the UK. Adrian Reynolds, Head of National Ministries writes in the introduction that they thought long and hard about how to celebrate the 100th anniversary: “We came to the conclusion that the best way is to rejoice in all that the Lord is doing now to help us in our continued mission.”
Looking back to look forward seemed like a great way to celebrate 100 years.
Why was this event celebrated in 2023 rather than 2022? The scheduled date last autumn was postponed because of a rail strike. It is a reminder that we live in an imperfect world.
Walking between the events we passed a loud and passionate demonstration by desperate members of the Sudanese community in London outside their embassy.
Just around the corner at St Martin in the Fields there was a service being held to remember the murder of Stephen Lawrence 30 years ago.
All this was going on in London, but Oxford Street was heaving with shoppers. Whispers of grace could be heard but the surface noise of business as usual made it difficult to hear.
Praise God the whispers heard at All Souls and Westminster Chapel will reverberate around the UK and the world.
The whisper of the Word of Life will always be heard.