Bishop Dill: A stormy 12 months
Merry Christmas to you all. What a year 2014 has been.
We have had all kinds of storms, economic, political and meteorological events — each stirring things up — both exposing weaknesses, inspiring hope and much needed cooperation and community spirit.
We have seen the resilience of our people and at the same time been frustrated by how little other things have changed.
But at the end of the year lingers the promise of recovery.
of hotel developments, the opportunities that hosting the America's Cup in 2017 will bring the promise of jobs. But as yet, it is all a future promise. Will it happen?
There is a cynicism in the air. And even now I know from personal experience that those future promises are not helping struggling families right now. In this “present mad” season, for them the best present might be to have someone pay their Belco bill so they can have electric light — let alone light up a tree.
It might be a food voucher for basics, let alone a turkey. We need to remember them all year around but especially when we are celebrating with all the trimmings.
Life is still hard. The recent upsurge in gun violence on our streets shows that under the surface things are still tense for many people. We have only just begun to address the roots causes of the problems.
Root causes, unfulfilled promises, the hardship of today, the flickering of hope . . . That is the world into which Jesus came. In the opening words of John's gospel from the Bible we hear this promise: “In him was life and the life was the light of men and women. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”.
We think we are so enlightened in our age and generation but yet we spend our lives scratching our heads at what to do to solve our most basic problems — but the light that Jesus brings shines truth onto our lives sometimes exposing our small mindedness and petty selfishness that is at the heart of so many of the problems we face. Sometimes reminding us that we are precious to God, made in his very image and loved beyond measure. But he didn't come to belittle us but rather to shine his light on the pathway to real life and truth, and that pathway leads directly back to him.
It is a personal relationship thing. His light shows us what God is really like — he “makes him known” — not just by teaching us with words or theories or philosophies, but by showing us, in person!
The word about God became flesh, blood and lived among us — for real!
One writer puts it like this: The omnipotent in one instant made himself breakable. He who became spirit became pierce-able. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. He who sustains the world chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as foetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created. Why? To show us the light of God and to bring the promises of God in person.
Jesus doesn't promise us that the road is easy, he doesn't promise us a life free from struggle, but he promises us that we are not alone. He promises us that there is a purpose and a meaning for the things we go through, that neither life nor death nor the past or the present can separate us from his love. He promises that in the end there is a better place.
At the time of Jesus' birth attempts were made to stamp out his light. Children were massacred in the streets of Bethlehem. Parents in Pakistan know how that feels today. But the darkness couldn't stamp out his light then or now. When he died on the cross in God-forsaken darkness it felt as if the light was finally extinguished — but no, like those trick candles on a birthday cake can't be blown out so his light shone again when he was raised from the dead.
His promises have given strength and the capacity to forgive, to go on living, trusting and hoping to countless millions around the world and across the centuries. I pray that 2015 will bring all that we hope for in Bermuda, but I also pray that each of us will rediscover the promise wrapped up in the love of God and that God's light will shine into each home and heart, enabling each of us to shine in our lives, our words and our good deeds, at home, at work and in our communities until we blaze with his love.
Again, Merry Christmas to you all!