The behaviour of people and the direction of our country has left all of us with food for thought this year. It recently became a topic of conversation when I was having my hair cut. In the middle of my chatting to Rachel, the hairdresser, she asked me a question worth pondering: “Do you ever watch the news and wonder how we got here?”
We hear complaints on all sides that we’ve become less kind and tolerant, more inclined to be divided and rude, and lonelier than ever we once were. There are sobering numbers which belong to 2019 such as: four million working people in poverty, 1.5million visits to food banks, and 762 people who died homeless on our streets. Rachel is not alone in wondering how we got here.
When Christians speak of ‘sin’ they’re describing the sad plight of human behaviour which is hard to fathom and even harder to escape. With that in mind we return to the Christmas story and remind ourselves that God got involved in the bleakness of the world. He himself entered what we know, not to control or direct our human realities but to show us the extraordinary power of love which can change those realities.
In the Bethlehem stable, in a baby’s first cry, in a sky full of angels and a family having to flee from a tyrant, the drama we remember this week tells us that love is the most powerful force of all.
The offer in these last days of a turbulent year is to return to that Christmas story and in it to find the renewal of our hope.
As we celebrate with family and friends, we might well find ourselves asking that question: “how did we end up here?” And the Christmas story tells us that wherever ‘here’ is for us, God is also with us. We might live with contentment or anger. ‘Here’ might make us comfortable or anxious. Whether we feel cherished or abandoned, all of us are invited to see in the birth of Jesus the declaration that God is love.
It’s a good time to return to why faith matters for us, to stand by the truth that love is the most powerful force we know.
We all have the capacity to love, and to determine that 2020 will be a better – a kinder – year.
Bishop June, Llandaff
Bishop June will be preaching at Llandaff Cathedral at 11am on Christmas Day. All are welcome.