In the insignificant town of Nazareth, in Galilee, Mary, a teenage girl was told by the angel Gabriel that she, an ordinary teenage virgin, living an uneventful life, waiting to get married to Joseph, was chosen by God to be the mother of the one who would come to save our world. When viewed together the angel’s message just did not make sense! This was not how things were meant to be. As Mary processed the information in her mind, she became confused and frightened, uncertain about the consequences, and her future within her close-knit community, yet she also felt reassured by the words of the angel that: there is nothing that God cannot do (Luke 1:37). With that reassurance she was able to say yes to God’s will. With the support of Joseph, her fiancé, Mary learnt to trust God even when she could not understand his purpose. In that trust came the birth of Jesus Christ; unique and holy, our Saviour and Messiah, the one who reconciles us to the Father, and calls us to be a living community that cares to make a difference to others.
Friends, there is a lot of good in our world; most of the time compassion, and kindness shed light into our dark and broken world, yet, as with Mary, some things are beyond our comprehension, they just do not make sense, leaving us with many unanswered questions. We look at all the terrible happenings in our world: Wars and rumours of wars abound, there are communities and individuals filled with hatred, perpetrating racial, religious, and cultural intolerance. There are those who sermonize about their rights but say nothing about their responsibility and accountability in how they exercise those rights. There are also demoralised and oppressed individuals, scarred physically and mentally by terror and injustice. What is happening to our world, we wonder? What is certain is that violence breeds more violence, there is therefore the need for us as humans to learn the art of settling differences peacefully. There is need to learn to forgive and journey together, seeing and treating every human life as sacred with dignity and respect, so that all people may live in freedom, justice, equality, and peace. As followers of Christ, let us really pray for our world, and for ourselves that God’s Spirit of wisdom and discernment would inform our words and actions, that we would be instruments of his love, peace, and justice in our communities and beyond.
No doubt, we can never fully understand God or how he works, his thoughts and ways defy human logic, but we can trust that he, the God of the impossible is in the equation. Even when we do not see how he will make a difference in our personal or global circumstances, as Mary did, let’s entrust him with our hopes for the future, inadequacies in the present, fears, and concerns. It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who amid personal and societal tragedy wrote: In despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; ‘for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth and good-will to men! Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, and good – will to all men! (Christmas Bells, 1861)
Indeed, ‘God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!’ so, this season and beyond celebrate the fact that in Jesus, the God of the impossible, who moves in mysterious ways is truly with us, making the impossible, possible: You my God are the most hidden from us, and yet the most present among us – St Augustine of Hippo
Christmas peace and every blessing in 2024
PS – At this time, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you, especially those bereaved during the year, and those who are ill or going through a difficult phase. May you know God’s presence giving you hope and strength today and always. Irene