This was my Christmas Day service message, delivered at Port Fairy Uniting Church
So we’ve made it to Christmas- the season of peace and goodwill. And yet that vision seems further and further away this year- with terrible drought, climate change, bushfires, corruption, the economy more important than people and the future of life on earth- and yet it’s so wobbly.
Jesus has shown us the way to peace- for us to live in a spirit of gratitude and love. If only we followed him.
For Christians we know that’s a struggle- and if we do pretty well at it, it’s easy to overbalance into pride and being judgmental.
For many people it just looks too hard too really try. There’s a fear of missing out on fun. It might cost us too much. It’s too much effort.
So given that’s how it is, is Jesus just a missed opportunity to get the world right?
Jesus’ coming was hidden away- a remote place away from power and influence. His work in the world today is pretty much hidden away too- but his Spirit is there in any human response of kindness, forgiveness, hospitality and open-mindedness. And it’s there in the light being shone on bad things- and their beginning to change.
It’s there in the royal commissions into child abuse and aged care. They show up terrible things happening, but they are prompting change. The terrible fires and NSW and Queensland this year have caused great suffering- but they will shake us into being serious about climate change, caring for the planet, and rooting out corruption in water use. The #MeToo movement is part of a momentum now towards respect and equality for women in all aspects of life. There’s a hidden, small but growing movement that we need a new economic model that puts sustainability and people ahead of the concentration of wealth and power with just a few. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection show the movement towards true and lasting peace doesn’t come straight-forwardly but through commitment and suffering, but the long view is heading in that direction. God looks on us with goodwill. Peace on earth is coming.
The image that’s come to me about all this- and Jesus used this image himself in John 16: 21- is that of childbirth. The world has become enlarged like a pregnant belly, and like through the pain and struggle of childbirth, the trouble we’re seeing in the world will result in the Way of God that Jesus called the Kingdom of God being born in the world.