Bishop Ruth shared a message of hope for the New Year with listeners of the Sunday Programme on BBC Radio Bristol.
This time last year as we stood at the beginning of a new decade, we were full of hope. Messages from the East were suggesting that there was a new virus emerging but none of us thought it would travel so far and have such a world-wide impact.
This past year has seen us move from imagining all that might be, to coping with unimaginable loss…
The loss of life… some of us have grieved the loss of a life cut short, a loved one for whom the usual patterns of mourning could not be shared
The loss of livelihoods… some of us have lost jobs, careers, prospects for the future, hopes and dreams which have been savagely squashed
The loss of lifestyle… many of us have struggled with the loss of social interaction, sports we enjoy, festivals, theatre, gigs, feasts, company we keep, family and friends we can no longer meet through lockdown
So much loss… and yet for some, new possibilities have been glimpsed… a world where value is placed on care rather than cost, where the beauty of a world free from harmful emissions has been glimpsed.
And here we now are at the beginning of 2021 at the moment when the Church remembers the messengers from the East who came, not with dire warnings but with hope for the future. They had seen a star, a light in the darkness, which inspired them with promise.
And we too, have a hope and promise held out to us in the shape of the vaccine as we look into this new year. But of course, there’s still a long way to go…! That was true for the Magi too. In following that star, they had no idea where it would take them, what they would find, but hope drove them on.
It was a journey that probably took them well over a year, just as our Covid journey seems to lengthen, they must have at times felt like giving up. They took some wrong turns, visiting Herod in the Palace, but eventually found the hoped-for Prince. Not as expected, in a palace of plenty but rather in a place of poverty.
I can’t predict the twists and turns of this year for any of us. I don’t know what the future might hold for you, but I do know who holds that future. The Magi discovered a God who didn’t distance Himself but chose to share in our world with us, born as a baby, vulnerable, poor, dependent on others, and yet with the power to bring healing, hope and a future for each of us. Forgiveness for our failures and the prospect of a new start when all seems lost.
The journey we take to discover that Christ child will last a lifetime. Knowing God’s presence with us won’t prevent future calamities but we will have the grace and spirit to face them and to discover new possibilities of joy.