A small boy, in the arms of his father, responded to questioning by a French journalist asking how he was feeling after the Paris attacks last month. The little boy said he was scared. He thought his family would have to leave their home because of the bad men who have guns. A calm and loving father responded, “Well they have guns, but we have flowers”.
There have been over 300 terrorist attacks perpetrated on a range of communities across the globe this year. Innocent people going about their daily business have been killed, kidnapped, injured, terrorised. Not surprisingly, the seeming randomness of such callous violence is creating a generalised fear and heightened sense of anxiety.
A father’s response to his son that flowers and candles will combat bad men with guns is not as ludicrous as it might sound. He was telling his son that those opposed to such evil, uniting in love not hate, will overcome the darkness. His quiet words soothed his son’s anxiety.
We are now in the season of Advent. Christians around the world are preparing for Christ’s coming into the world. Churches light an Advent candle each week in the lead up to Christmas to remind worshippers of the grace that is found in Christ Jesus – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
In times of uncertainty our human response is self-protection. Ostrich-like, we seek to close our eyes to the outside world, our vision is diminished, our openness to new ideas and a broader perspective shrivels and shrinks.
The Advent season reminds us anew of where our hope is placed. Humankind is unchanged from the time of the Bible. Pride, arrogance, power, greed, jealousy, hate – so vividly captured in the Old and New Testaments – still permeate all communities in the 21st century.
The opening words of John’s Gospel, leading into the verse about light, remind us that the Word (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind.”
Try not to be discouraged by issues of the micro or the macro. Pray. Seek silence and rejoice in the words of Christmas hymns, written by faithful Christians centuries before us, who understood the timelessness of God:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun. (Amazing Grace)
The team at Crosslight wishes you and your extended family a joyous Christmas and a safe beginning to the New Year.