SIGNS OF HOPE
In a troubled world, people look for signs of hope. Without them, it is difficult to navigate the future when the mind is filled with only negative and depressing things. Indeed, over the past year, the prospects for the future have been overshadowed by a lot of bad news from around the world. Things have also happened in our own lives that have tested our optimism.
The message of Christmas is particularly timely at a time like this. The events of the Christmas Gospel encourage us to see signs of hope in our own time. Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem was fraught with anxiety and uncertainty, if only because Mary was well into her pregnancy. Would they get there in time? Would they find a decent place to stay where it would be safe to give birth?
They did find a place to stay, but it was probably not quite what they expected. Still, even in modest conditions, a new life began and the joy of a newborn baby replaced the worry and anxiety of the past. The birth of a child brings with it a special perspective on the future. A baby must be walked alongside and accompanied towards tomorrow. A new life encourages us to look forward with hope.
In the story of the birth of Jesus we can see another important sign of hope. God is present in people’s lives, even in their daily lives. This was the experience of the shepherds working the night shift on the outskirts of Bethlehem. “Fear not!” was the angel’s first message to them. The shepherds heard that the Son of God had been born for them too. The angels assured them that God cares about people and wants them to live in a world of peace and love.
The message of Christmas is that hope comes into the human world in Jesus. Therefore, Christmas itself is a sign of hope. Sad news and disturbing things are not the whole truth about our world. Every new beginning of life opens the way to the future, and the birth of Jesus opens the way to God’s committed presence in his creation.
Signs of hope are needed. Christmas is unrivalled as a demonstration of them.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Happy and blessed Christmas!
Archbishop Tapio Luoma
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Translation edited by Aleksei Zubtsov