To a holiday of hope

I was holding back on wishing our readers a Merry Christmas until as close as possible to the day we observe as the birth of the Messiah. But then the news from the Minister of Finance came like a flash flood and seemed to have caught many unawares and unprepared.

It is almost as if some dark, ominous cloud is lingering overhead waiting to unleash its torrents –– nothing really to be happy about.

Part of my struggle is not joining the band of complainers, but moving towards workable solutions. As I spoke to several people, I received only one email, since last Friday, that really offered any hope. It does not poke fun, pull down or hold up anyone to ridicule. It offers in a very simple way the seriousness and maturity we need, especially at this time.

So rather than keep this until Christmas Day I chose to share it with you now, and I pray it will give you some hope as it did me.

“I greet you in the name of Our Lord . . . .

“Each year on Christmas Day, we listen to the wonderful Christmas stories about the

birth of our Lord being read. In each there is a message which can still speak to us in our own time.

“In the story in St Luke’s Gospel, there is a verse with a powerful message speaking to us in a special way at this time. The verse reads: . . . the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people’.

“When we relate this verse to our context today, we may well say, yes, there is fear, but where is the good news?

“There is surely a lot of bad news around. It can indeed create fear. At this time in Barbados, there is some bad news about our economic conditions. There is the fear of losing one’s job, of not being able to make ends meet and of having to make some difficult and painful adjustments to our way of life.

“The passage we quoted above, is from a scene in which the shepherds are confronted with the unexpected and are gripped by fear. They react to the unexpected and the unknown like normal human beings.

“It is into this all too familiar scenario, that

the voice of the angel introduces the promise of ‘good news’ and ‘joy’. There is still some space for these in spite of fear.

“As we reflect on our lives and on our country at this Christmas time, we must ask the question: is there still some space for good news and joy in our lives, and in our country? The message of Christmas is a resounding ‘yes, there surely is’ for the Christmas message is a message of hope.

“The voice of the angel in the story makes the important point that no matter how difficult matters are, no matter how dark the night may be, as it was for the shepherds, God’s light can break through the dark and create some space for good news and joy. There can be light. We should never lose hope.

“In the Christmas story the shepherds travel through conditions of uncertainty symbolized by darkness, to the good news, the baby Jesus, and to experiences of joy.

“Like the shepherds, we sometimes have to make difficult journeys, as we are called

to do at this time as a nation. Like them we may have to take some risks and travel in the dark not absolutely clear on how or even when we will experience the good news and the joy. As we travel, we often have to do so by faith rather than by sight.

“We thank God for the message of the angel in the Christmas story. It is a powerful message. It is a message of hope. May we also be messengers of good news, joy and hope at this Christmas time and into the year ahead.

“Being such a messenger never leads us to ignore the bad news, but to affirm the hope, that in spite of the bad news today, we like the shepherds are prepared to travel, even through the darkness, to the point where there can be experiences of good news

and joy. “May God grant you a blessed Christmas

and a New Year full of good news, joy and hope.”

That was from The Most Reverend Dr The Honourable John Holder, Bishop of Barbados, Archbishop of the West Indies.

Thanks to him and to you; and may we all have a hope-filled holiday.

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