Christmas message 2017: Rev Keith Garner
Christmas is a time when we take stock of the year and look with hope to the future. At dinner tables across the nation a range of topics will be eagerly discussed.
However one dominant theme continues to resonate: the loss of trust in our political system and aspects of our social and economic life.
Many of the things which we held true and gave us meaning and certainty have been stripped away.
Survey after survey shows that we are a generation which has lost confidence. Our political parties splinter, leadership is undermined and our nation becomes demoralised. Our lack of trust in our economic system and financial institutions goes to the soul of modern identity and security
It is hard to build a feeling of collective conviction or hope in such a climate. Perhaps it explains our desire to ‘like’ something on social media without committing to it.
However distrust can also do something more damaging: blunt our deep feelings of curiosity, wonder, and joy.
However, I take heart from the many people we support at Wesley Mission. These are people who face the great challenges of poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, mental health issues, isolation and loneliness. They could easily lose trust but have found that a hand extended in friendship and genuine care is one which transcends cynicism.
These people choose hope and move forward in life. They can teach each of us not only about the power of life-changing love but about how despair can be faced and finally overcome.
It was Luke who stated that poor shepherds who were ‘out in the fields’ were filled with wonder and awe regarding the events that they had encountered in the birth of Jesus Christ. Wonder is an appropriate response to something that is mysterious and holy. I trust that we will not lose our sense of wonder as we celebrate Christmas.
Too often people are filled with worry rather than wonder which can be compounded by the widespread commercialisation of Christmas. There is something very special when the shops close and families go home to prepare for what many consider an important celebration.
At the heart of the Christmas message is the thought that God has encountered our human experience and it is the closest and most wonderful of all possible encounters. We read about the encounter with angels, with the Christ Child born in a lowly stable and the fullest sense of meaning in God’s compassionate care for this world.
Like the angels and shepherds, we too are invited to share in the joyous tidings of a new beginning. Christmas is a time for celebration and to trust again in all the fullness of the message that comes with the birth of the Saviour of the world. May you and those you love embrace this message so you can truly say, ‘happy Christmas.’