HOPE SHATTERED HOPE RESTORED
2020 has seen a global health crisis unlike any in our life time — one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human, economic and social crisis.
It is no wonder that almost nine in ten Australians (88%) are excited to close the door on 2020 and start 2021 according to McCrindle research. Many have lost the source of their confidence in 2020 and hope has been shattered. As industries have shut down, jobs have been lost, and health has been compromised, many people are experiencing the shattering of the things in which they put their hope.
Can Christmas 2020 help restore that lost hope?
The global crisis accentuates that we really need this Christmas because it gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves of where hope can be restored.
The Christmas story as it unfolds in the Bible is associated with family connection. Jesus’ birth is a local family event. The shepherds on the Bethlehem hills discovered the newborn baby in the simplest of family scenes. Christmas is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of family; an opportunity to commit to working to strengthen families and not weaken them. Let’s especially remember families in difficult circumstances because of COVID-19, our neighbours, sole-parent, unemployed and refugee families. As well as families in isolated indigenous communities, drought affected rural areas and those still recovering from the tragic bushfires of 2019/20. The strengthening of our family bonds and community connection can restore hope.
Christmas reaffirms the value of giving over and against getting. The Bible narratives of the first Christmas record that the wise men came bearing gifts for this newborn baby, who would change the course of human history. Everyone needs to be reassured that others are really interested in them and gifts give tangible expression to this basic need. Could we work together as a nation to bring hope to the less well-off in our world by being more generous in our support through disaster relief and development aid?
Christmas ultimately provides the opportunity to restore hope by focusing on our own personal spirituality and well-being. Christmas marks the intervention of the eternal creator God into the personal history of every one of us. Eugene Peterson in the Message Bible puts it simply: “And this sublime Word (God himself) became flesh and blood and moved into our neighbourhood.” God with us and for us.
As we enter into Christmas celebrations this year let’s take up God’s invitation to accept His gift of Jesus as the conduit to restore hope in situations where hope has been shattered.
Rev Keith Jobberns
National Ministries Director
Australian Baptist Ministries