Rector’s Letter December 2015
By the time you read this we will be well into Advent and will hopefully have begun our Christmas preparations – but if you haven’t, you’d better think about getting started! But actually as I write Christmas seems a long way off and thoughts are turned far more to Paris than to Bethlehem with the terrible massacres and their aftermath still dominating the news.
I for one simply cannot understand what motivates a human being to murder his or her fellow human beings in such a callous and predetermined way, and perhaps I never will, so I want to focus instead on one of the words that has been used in response to what has happened – namely ‘Solidarity’ – it is a word that has been used by many people who are wanting to say that they stand with those affected in any way by what has happened; and I want to focus on this word because it allows me to point to the greatest act of solidarity the world has ever known, namely the moment when Jesus took on flesh and became one of us all those years in Bethlehem so that we might be rescued from sin and death. The Incarnation, as we call it, wasn’t simply a quick fix – no it was a long term mission put into action so that we can have a Saviour who knows exactly what it is like to be a human being, knows what it is like to enjoy family life, knows what it is like to share deep friendship, knows what it is like to be vilified and hated, knows what it is like to die a horrible death at the hands of merciless people. That is what we call solidarity – He is Emmanuel, God with us.
And it is because Jesus is our Emmanuel and has acted decisively to deal with sin and death that we can look at the events in Paris, or Beirut, or in Northern Nigeria where those kidnapped schoolgirls have still not been rescued, or any one of a whole host of places where terrible deeds have been perpetrated, and still have hope. Hope that evil cannot triumph over good, hope that the kingdom of God is coming in all its glorious fullness, hope that when Christ does return He will undoubtedly call to account those who are responsible for the spilling of so much innocent blood, hope that death does not have the last word. If we were to be without this hope, then the events in Paris and elsewhere would be more dreadful still, but because we have this hope, we can dare to pray even in the midst of so much hatred and violence in the world, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’
Then, because we are people of hope, our calling not just as human beings but as followers of Jesus our Emmanuel, is to seek ourselves to be part of the answer to that prayer by loving and serving our fellow human beings wherever they are in need, whenever we get the chance. To do so is to be in solidarity with one another but also with Jesus.
Wishing you all a peaceful and hope filled Christmas.
PS don’t forget to look at the times of our various Christmas services, printed elsewhere in this magazine, and join with us in celebrating Emmanuel God in solidarity with us.