Let not your heart be troubled – reach out and spread goodwill
The year 2020 was supposed to be a year of fresh vision — and in some senses it has been — as it has shone the light upon several important realisations; our vulnerability as human beings, not just to a tiny virus whose effects are felt on a global scale, but our anxieties, fears and impotence.
It has shone the spotlight on our fragile economies — how many are living “on the edge” or have fallen off the edge on to hard times; on the struggles governments have had in making provision for their most vulnerable citizens.
It has shone the light on social, racial and economic injustice. But it has also shone the light on tender and generous-hearted service and giving; on a community spirit and a desire to do things differently, fairly and together in a spirit of co-operation not competition — from the scientific community to the bipartisan world of politics, to charities and churches.
So many have had to reinvent themselves as they have arisen to support, encourage and provide in a multiplicity of ways. But as we end the year — in our shrinking bubbles, isolated, with masked faces and washed hands — where is “hope” to be found for the weary and tired, lonely and afraid?
I would be tempted to say, “you are invited to a Zoom service”, or to encourage you that the Pfizer vaccine is coming soon!
I could say, “Christmas is here” with all of its hype and distraction — but we know that it won’t be the same as previous years and its capacity to distract will be less. Many are going it on their own this year. Like most weddings, sporting and social events, has Christmas been effectively “cancelled” too?
Two thousand years ago, there was a young girl who thought the most important thing in her year was getting married to a carpenter called Joseph. But into those plans, through the walls of her existence, God stepped in. In a time of political darkness in a proud country overrun by a cruel Roman empire, light shone.
There was a “zoom” as angels came to deliver a message that God was at work — first in the womb of a young woman called Mary, but then to a group of shepherds going about their daily grind of caring for someone else’s sheep at night. A saviour was to be born: arriving in poverty, fleeing for his life as a refugee, growing up in obscurity, but in the fullness of time revealing himself in the majesty of God’s love for all; his understanding of all; and his salvation offered to all — rich and poor, black and white, male and female, saint and sinner.
His coming establishes the possibility of peace between us and our maker, and between us as human beings. He brings an unshakeable, living hope of a better world and of His presence to help us navigate this world with joy and thanksgiving until we get there, or He returns; to be agents of change and transformation; to give us a new identity that transcends all others — children of God, united together.
His love was filled with grace, kindness, service, welcome, presence — the very things we need now.
My hope for each of you is that this Christmas will find you reaching out to the one who breaks into our world still and to find the peace He brings; that He would equip you to reach out to others with those attributes He exhibits, so that whatever 2021 has in store, we would be different people.
Thank you for your service this year, for your generosity and perseverance. May God bless you and your families here and wherever they may be.
Merry Christmas to all.