Hope for 2016

Flight to Egypt 

The flight to Egypt, by Jean-Francois Millet (1864)

I used this picture for a Christmas midnight communion sermon.  “What did the future look like for Joseph and Mary as they fled from Herod?  Other powers today, like Herod’s, brook no rivals.  Sheltered in Mary’s arms, that small bundle of light.

Back in the time of the old Kingdom of Israel, as recorded in 1 Kings ch. 11, a prophet called Ahijah prophesied that after the death of King David’s son Solomon, despite the kingdom being divided by civil war, God would always preserve ‘a lamp for David.‘  John the Baptist’s father Zechariah quotes Isaiah 9 v.2, in calling the Messiah “a light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

In her Christmas Day broadcast, The Queen drew attention to the beginning of St John’s gospel, and “The Light, the true light which enlightens everyone, that was coming into the world.”  The tiny lamp held in Mary’s arms, became the man whose voice thundered out as the great candelabra was lit in the Jerusalem temple at Hanukah, the Feast of Light, celebrating the temple re-dedication.  Writing after the final destruction of that temple, St John records the words of Jesus “I am the Light of the world”.

May 2016 see the light of the gospel growing in the world, despite the darkness pressing on so many, perhaps most especially, refugee children, as Jesus once was.  Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s international correspondent, knows more about such children than most people, and she is optimistic for them – at least for those among the 1,000,000 to reach Europe’s borders in 2015.  So many young people, themselves optimistic for the future.  How can European Christians do anything other than welcome them, and share the Love of God in Christ with them?