Jesus, the gift of Hope

 

Dear friends 

Welcome to our family celebration on this Christmas Day as we rejoice at the wonderful news of a Saviour’s birth, and worship together with joy and thanksgiving for all that this means to us and to all people. 

It’s a message that will ring out from the heart of our capital city and in particular, St Paul’s Cathedral, which has become in recent months the location of a campsite and a focal point for media attention. Whatever you make of the camp or the protests of the organisers, there’s something wonderfully symbolic about it as people gather at the doors of the church to express their concerns, their fears and their anger. 

We’re living in days of extraordinary shaking. Who would have thought this time last year, that we would have seen dictators toppling in the middle east, the Euro, the great symbol of European union close to collapse under a mountain of sovereign debt or a national institution like the News of the World closed due to scandal amongst its journalists. During the summer we saw a week of madness on British streets – looting and rioting, unprecedented in recent history. Right across the globe there is a growing sense of dissatisfaction – a sense that things just can’t stay the same. At times like this, where do we turn for hope?

 

The Christmas event has at the very heart of it the greatest bit of news the world will ever hear – God hasn’t abandoned us. He hasn’t abandoned humanity – a baby born in a stable is God himself. An angel appears to shepherds on a hillside overlooking Bethlehem and makes this wonderful announcement; ‘Today in the city of David, a Saviour is born to you; he is Christ the Lord’. 

So it is that this baby, born in a manger, becomes a symbol of hope for us. God is with us. God hasn’t abandoned us. 

God is with us even in our fears and insecurities.

God is with us though our pensions, benefits and jobs are under threat.

God is with us though our financial institutions teeter on the brink of ruin.

God is with us despite the impact of global warming.

God hasn’t abandoned us, a Saviour has been born. This is the good news of Christmas that we celebrate. The posters outside our church this year convey this message: ‘Jesus, the Gift of Hope’. 

As we look to 2012, let us make it our prayer, whatever our personal circumstances, that we might be carriers of hope to our families, our friends, our neighbourhoods and wider communities.

May each one of us know the joy of the One who is the gift of Hope to us, this Christmas time and throughout the new year.

Stephen