Interim Moderator’s Letter: Magazine, December 2016
During Advent we are beginning the new Christian year that within four weeks will take us to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Advent is a time of great anticipation, leading up to the joyous celebration of Christmas with friends and family and the whole community. We are all brought by that birth into the loving arms of a God who cares for us and for the world that he has created.
However, during Advent we contemplate our very troubled and weary world as we hope – indeed, as believers, expect – that Christmas will bring a better life for all. This is the central message of my favourite seasonal poem, Advent, by Daniel Berrigan, an American Jesuit priest and radical pacifist, who died earlier this year. Its statements powerfully summarise the hope that Jesus brings – setting pessimism about the state of our present world alongside a new order of justice and joy that Jesus promises.
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction — This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever— This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world– This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers. This is true: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young shall see visions, and your old shall have dreams.
It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and peace are not meant for this earth and for this history– This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ–the Life of the world. Amen
Berrigan’s words, these affirmations of the truth of what Jesus’ birth must mean to Christians, give me hope for a better world for all, a hope that we must all carry through into Christmas and beyond into 2017.
My wife and I wish all of you at St David’s, and all of your families and the whole community, a very happy and joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year, filled with that positive hope that Jesus brings to the world.