The Archbishop of the West Indies, Dr. John Holder has urged Anglicans in the Caribbean not to despair for God is with us. “There is some bad news about our economic conditions. There is the fear of losing one’s job, of not being able to make ends meet and of having to make some difficult and painful adjustments to our way of life. … in spite of the bad news today, we, like the shepherds, are prepared to travel, even through the darkness, to the point where there can experiences of good news and joy” that is life in Christ.
I greet you in the name of Our Lord on this blessed Christmas Day.
There is a verse from the Christmas story in St Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 2 Verse 10, that comes alive in a special way at certain times in life. The celebration of Christmas this year, seems to be such a time. The verse reads:
“. . . the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people . . . .”
When we relate this verse to our context today, we may well say yes, there is fear, but where is the Good News?
There is surely a lot bad news around. It can indeed create fear. At this time in Barbados, there is some bad news about our economic conditions.
There is the fear of losing one’s job, of not being able to make ends meet and of having to make some difficult and painful adjustments to our way of life.
The passage we quoted above is from that scene in the Christmas story in which the shepherds are confronted with the unexpected, and are gripped by fear. They react to the unexpected and the unknown like normal human beings.
Very few of us deal well with the unknown and the unexpected. For our comfort, we all need the assurance that the things to which we have grown accustomed will stand firm.
We do not like to engage in radical adjustments and complex rearrangements.
We fear change.
It is into this all too familiar scenario that the voice of the angel introduces the promise of “good news” and “joy”. There is still some space for these in spite of fear.
As we reflect on our lives and on our country at this Christmastime, we must ask the question: is there still some space for good news and joy in our lives, and in our country? The message of Christmas is a resounding “yes, there surely is”.
The Christmas message is a message of hope.
The voice of the angel in the story is there to make the point that no matter how difficult matters are, no matter how dark the night may be, as it was for the shepherds, God’s light can break through the dark and create some space for good news and joy.
There can be light. We should never lose hope.
As Christians and indeed as human beings, we are never to surrender to the dark. We are never to surrender to the bad news.
We acknowledge bad news and darkness as realities of life, but we keep working for the light. We work to create some good news.
Do not let us as a nation or as individuals surrender to the bad news.
We must work to replace this with good news even as Our Lord did in His ministry.
The Christmas story of the shepherds makes the very important point that they literally had to travel through conditions of uncertainty symbolized by darkness, to the Good News, the baby Jesus, and to experiences of joy.
We often have to do the same. Like the shepherds, we sometimes have to make difficult journeys as we are called to do at this time as a nation.
Like them, we may have to take some risks and travel in the dark
not absolutely clear of how, or even when, we will experience the good news and the joy.
As we travel, we often have to do so by faith rather than by sight.
We thank God for the message of the angel in the Christmas story.
It is a powerful message.
It is a message of hope. May we also be messengers of good news, joy and hope at this Christmas time and into the year ahead.
Being such a messenger never leads us to ignore the bad news, but to affirm the hope that in spite of the bad news today, we, like the shepherds, are prepared to travel, even through the darkness, to the point where there can experiences of good news and joy.
May God grant you a blessed Christmas and a New year full of good news, joy and hope.