Musings from the Manse 20 December 2020

This is my last Musings before Christmas. I am taking a two week break from writing and will be back musing with you on January 7th. It seems to me that, this Christmas, the whole world is waiting, sadly not for Jesus but for a  vaccine – an alternative saviour – that may bring a return to normal in the new year. 

Of course, we give thanks for the work of God through scientists and doctors and we pray that these vaccines, developed so quickly, will be safe in the long term and will indeed offer protection against COVID-19. What’s interesting for me is that I noticed myself dwelling on the word ‘normal’. What is normal? And do we want to go back to all aspects of it? 

Our normal before Covid included marginalisation of refugees, many damaged and broken global relationships, increasing gaps between rich and poor, climate crisis made worse by denial and a lack of appreciation of those in the care sector to name but a few… 

Certainly, we look forward to being able to gather as family, church and community without masks and in closer proximity.   But I wonder if we are brave enough to hold onto some of the good things that have emerged from our Covid journey. I have witnessed churches working so creatively to ensure that the isolated and the vulnerable are not forgotten. I have rejoiced in seeing increased community spirit. 

There is a fresh appreciation of care workers and the NHS. We have discovered some of the gifts and opportunities of online communication and some, perhaps, have had chance to reflect on their priorities in life. It has also been wonderful to see the creativity of so many as faith and comforting words have been shared in cards and candles, liturgy, blogs, online worship, videos and activity bags. Yes, there has been huge loss, much grief and there will be hurdles to overcome as we face the fallout of this year. But all is not darkness as we hear again the words of Isaiah recalled in Luke:   

Luke 3:4–6 (NRSV) – as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight… crooked paths shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ 

In those days, when a king travelled the desert, workers preceded him to clear debris and smooth out the roads to make the trip easier. I wonder what Luke means using this quote here? Is it that through John, and in this generation, through our lives and witness that the hearts and minds of those around us may be ‘made ready’ to receive the story and message of Jesus?  

As we continue to face the inner and outer turmoil of what will be an entire year of crisis, I cling onto the discipline of waiting with expectation that Christ’s coming is in fact the key and the cure to this world’s darkness much of which existed before Covid.  And I wonder how we might prepare the way, smooth the path and straighten the route to enable ourselves and others to experience the presence, comfort, hope and light of God-in-Christ this Christmas.  May God bless you and keep safe.  All my love and prayers 

Nik

Rev Nik Wooller

20th December 2020

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