Is there any reason to hope this Christmas?

6 Dec 2020 by Rev Dr Ross Kingham & Judy McKinlay - Presbytery Co-chairs in: Letters, Thoughts, News


From Presbytery Co-chairs Judy McKinlay and Rev Ross Kingham
As we move into Advent, we reflect on the year that is now drawing to a close. What a year! From heat, fire to THE VIRUS.
There is much talk of loss throughout 2020. Many kinds of loss. But is it possible that we have also had rich learnings?
Many folk experience amazing new growth after trauma. Maybe we, as individuals and as congregations, have become a little wiser, a little more thoughtful.
Rev Daniel Mossfield (minister at Crookwell), preaching recently at the Induction Service for Duncan McDiarmid at Bateman’s Bay, likened our present reality to the description in Jeremiah 29 of exile……
“This is the reality of exile. 
This is the reality of a loss of place and space and identity.
This is the reality of a loss of home and family.
This is the reality of a world changed in an instant by moments beyond our control. 
This is the reality which this year we no longer understand only with our minds – some abstract intellectual exercise – but now with our whole bodies – our whole beings.
How many years in Church have you heard mention of the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland?
How many times have you heard the prophets and thought – yeah, I wonder what that would feel like – to be dragged into a different place and lose the life I’ve always known. 
Perhaps we don’t wonder about that anymore – now we know.
For while the destructive forces of 2020 may not have had a face as clear as the Babylonian army come to sack Jerusalem, fire, and disease, and economic hardship are just as effective at hauling us out of our comfortable realities and dumping us, exhausted, in a land and space and time we do not know. 
And I name this link because I believe it prepares us to hear anew the words of Jeremiah from today’s passage, and to understand how trouble may become grace and grace may become trouble to those who wake up in the pit of exile...
But the irony is that once this truth is named – once the veil of how we think God should work is lifted from our eyes – suddenly we discover God working outside the boundaries we expected. 
Suddenly we find a God, who though seemingly absent in this moment, has not forgotten us, but continues to work for our welfare. 
Suddenly we encounter a God who names the truth of our suffering and honours our story through the prophets. 
God sends to us those who will not shy away from naming the truth of our moment – for God does not forget us – even though we feel forgotten by God….
For the good news is that God sends prophets to speak the truth of our moment – even when that truth is the dark night of our souls. 
Thank you, Daniel, for your words. They are words of a deep truth. A truth that is a challenge for us all: that God’s ways are perfect even when all we can experience is the apparent absence of God.
Let us embrace the full impact of the harshness of much human experience. Name it for what it is, a trusted and close guide for our future.
And let us claim, in humility, that the grace of God is always available.
God’s way is perfect
Know it even in your tears
When before your clouded vision,
Mystery appears.
May God’s blessing be yours this ADVENT!