Tell the world of the goodness of God and his grace
The world of 2022 is a complex place. The war in Ukraine is now in its tenth month; there is rising famine in Somalia and a food crisis of unprecedented proportions around the globe, not least in Haiti and Madagascar; talk of recession and rising inflation and interest rates put governments under pressure; geopolitical tensions exist between east and west; leadership battles abound; the climate crisis effects the lives of millions; and here in Bermuda we still see too many people reliant upon financial and food assistance; Covid has “gone”, but not gone as our hospital is straining under the pressure of that alongside other winter-related viruses.
But, for the first time in a number of years, we are able to gather and meet together and there is a hunger to do so – to connect, to celebrate.
The lights are on, there is a sense of expectation in the air. But many are tired, worn out before it starts. Where is real joy to be found? The excitement of the Argentinian win at the World Cup has waned.
One of the eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus records the extraordinary moment when a bunch of shepherds working the night shift on the hills outside a Jewish town were startled, or, as it says in an old translation of the Bible “sore afraid” when an angel from another realm appeared to them.
The angel proclaimed “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people, to you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”. An angelic flash mob chorus of angels then appear singing “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours”.
The shepherds were initially terrified, but when they went to check out the truth of the claim they were filled with an inexpressible joy and told everyone they saw what had happened.
This joy was to be found in the coming of a baby, born nearby in obscurity, who was to grow up and become a saviour of all who would come to him; a light to those living in darkness; hope for the hopeless; a friend for the friendless; head of a new family for those without a family; a healer for those with disease; a forgiver for those laden with guilt; a deliverer for time and eternity.
True then, equally true now. It doesn’t take wrapped presents and stuffed turkeys to bring the deep seated daily joy of knowing that God is with us, that God loves us.
It is my prayer from my family to yours that this joy and peace would be yours in abundance, enabling to face whatever lies ahead for 2023 with faith and hope, and before then to marvel with me at the gift of God of his Son as you participate in and celebrate Christmas.
I pray that as you reach out to him and reach out in love and service to those around you, we would all experience the purpose and interconnectedness in and of all things and find a new sense of being a community that enters into the lives of others, especially the vulnerable, that loves, cares and gives – just as God did and does for us, and that we would, like those shepherds, tell the world of the goodness of God and his grace.