December 27, 2017

Let Fear Give Way to Hope

When Christ was born in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago, it was a time of hopes and fears. Christmas 2017 is also a time of hopes and fears.

As we reflect on the Christmas narrative in the New Testament and as we reflect on our experiences of Christmases past, we come to the realization that Christmas is about more than a little baby born in Bethlehem. For Christians, it focuses on the action in that ancient City of David, but it is connected to many cities around the world and speaks to every city, hamlet and village in our world today.

Let us recall some of the fears and hopes that would have existed at that first Christmas. Mary and Joseph though upright, God-fearing people, must have feared that people would question their integrity as someone put it, “Will folks understand? Will they know that what is done is of God? What will they think of us now? What will they think of my judgment in bringing Mary here in this place under these circumstances?” But they also had hope. Hope in what God had promised because they knew the truth of what was unfolding in their lives as part of God’s plan for them and for the world.

The Wise men had fears, too. Fears, that they had lost their way. Had they been misled by the star they were following. Would they be laughed out of Herod’s court as fools on a silly expedition? But they also had hopes that they would find the baby born King of the Jews and would be able to present their gifts and worship him.
King Herod also had fears when the Wise Men turned up at his palace. Is it really true that someone has been born who will supplant me? What is this threat to my rule of which these people are telling me? Before the wise men appeared, Herod had hoped to maintain the security of his present position. After they had brought their shocking message of a new King of the Jews being born, he hoped in a strategy of killing all first born boys that would keep him in power.
Fast forward to Christmas 2017! Even as we think of the family of Mary and Joseph we are rightly led to think of Christmas as a time for families to be together and to share the joys of being family. It is a wonderful time for us to pause and experience the security of home and the love and unity of family.
As we hear again the story of Mary and Joseph being turned away even from the inn because there was no room for them, as we hear of Jesus having nowhere to lay his head, let us give thought to the many persons in Caribbean who have to seek lodging this Christmas as a result of the two devastating hurricanes which have visited many of our islands; let us spare a thought for families which have been dispersed as a result of these catastrophes; let us think of those who have lost so much and those who have lost everything material. Can they have anything to hope in? Yes, Jesus is the hope of the world. Therefore, let us open our hearts and our homes to some of them this Christmas even as they live in fear of what the future will hold for them. Let us share with them and with all the world that Jesus is truly the hope of the world; he can overcome all our fears and troubles not just in a spiritual sense, but in temporal existence as well.
Finally, we cannot escape that message of the angels, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men. As we approach this Christmas the world holds its breath in fear as the leaders of the United States of America and the Republic of North Korea threaten each other with what could inevitably lead to nuclear war. Let us hope that God will speak good sense to the actors on the world stage so that peace will reign and people will not live in fear but in hope.
A happy and blessed Christmas to all!