Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Hope of a New Year by John VanDerWalker

 As 2021 comes to an end most of us are probably looking forward to 2022 with anticipation.  When we closed out 2020 a year ago most were quite optimistic about 21 thinking that we had been through the worst of the upheavals.  Well as we head into wave 5 of the pandemic, we look at 2022 with guarded hope.

Advent season, the time of waiting, is over.  Jesus is born!  The story of a baby born under questionable circumstances into a family in poverty under a brutal political regime and an unforgiving religious realm is a poignant reminder of how extraordinary God’s choice was with Mary and in the that place and that season of history.

Unlike Jesus, I am a part of the dominant culture in my society.  I have been employed my entire adult life and have always lived in a home, and while there have been times when things were a little tight, I have always been well fed and warm.  While my faith community at one time used questionable tactics to help me modify my behavior, I have never been oppressed in anyway by my religion, and the government I live under is in a constant state of reinvention, some of which I am thankful for and some—not so much.

The point I am trying to make is that the coming of Jesus means something different to me than it would to a teenager in Central America, a child in India or an Adult in Russia.  Yet, Jesus’ coming is universal in its promise of Joy, Hope, Love and Peace.  There can always be more Joy, more Love, more Hope and certainly more Peace.

The message of the angel to Mary and Joseph was to “Fear not.”  We may have much to fear because of how things are right now, but really most of us have enough and we are very blessed to have each other.  In the story of Jesus’ birth, we are reminded that Joseph and Mary faced the coming of their son alone and when they asked for help, there was no room for them.  But God provided community by calling shepherds to attend the family and men of means to help provide for the future. 

May the God who put the hope for humanity in the womb of a teenage Palestinian girl place the hope of a bright future for you, your family and congregation, in your heart as you celebrate the coming of Jesus.  Enjoy your time of celebration and as you spread the cheer of the season always remember, God is with us, around us, in us and binding us to each other and to creation.  What kind of love is that?