Sermon – 1 January – Nick

St Laurence`s – 1st January 2017 – Nick Welford

New Year Old Hope

As we have closed out 2016 the general consensus is that it’s not been the best year. On the local and global scale people have felt the weight of last year. Celebrity deaths, unrest in the world, ongoing financial strain, the refugee crisis, brexit, Trump and as 2016 closed the shootings in Turkey. It has certainly been an eventful year. The question is do we let our feelings about 2016 colour our hope for the future? In an attempt to comment on the events of last year many have personified 2016 heaping the blame for these events on a period of time. It is strange that I have not seen the blame placed at God’s door but rather on a defined measurement of the passing of time. 2016 can answer to these charges. It can’t comfort us or attempt to explain what’s going on. It is nonchalant at best about the events that occurred in it’s timespan.

In our reading today we see that it’s been a rough few years for Jesus and family. Joseph and Mary have relocated, had a baby in less than ideal circumstances and now flee the threat of infant genocide as refugees. This takes place in a back drop of political unrest as uneasy alliances are made between the foreign force of the Roman Empire and the native powers of the land. In fact all of Jesus life will take place on this stage. Many expected Jesus to aim his rhetoric directly at the Romans, when in actuality he focused on something else. Jesus focused on changing the narrative of the world. Those who listened to him found hope in a new story that was unlike any of the others being told.

Jesus retold the story – You have heard it said, but I tell you. He used parables and metaphor rich with the images of his culture to poke and probe the values of the day, show them for the frauds they were and point people to a better story. Ultimately the story of love.

Our hope for this year and every year that has passed and is to come is to change the narrative, to retell the story in the light of love. Now I’m not saying we should lie, but we should combat the lies and lean of the media with the light and truth of love. We bring hope, we bring Jesus into every moment of the day when we choose to partake in his story rather than the dominant and popular stories of the day.

What do I mean? Let me ask you this – why is it that we only hear of George Michael’s extremely generous kindness after his death? Why is it that we are more interested in his scandals while he was alive? Why are the media so focused on the ‘bad news’? When did kindness become so mundane? We can start to change these stories, it won’t even take that much effort. We have already had some success through shedding some light on the plight of refugees. But we can also do this on a smaller scale – the next time you hear gossip could you refocus the conversation on something good about that person? The next time you find someone down about the state of the world can you share a story of love? Jesus consistently challenged the narrative assumptions of the day, we can do that too.

Hope
More addictive than dope
Not that I’d know
I’m a clean cut kind of bloke
My hidden past is more cutting grass than smoking it
Jumping over pavement cracks rather than taking hits
And you can’t toke on hope
But I can’t cope without hope
though I’ve tried.

Hope
Is a big word

Hope
The antidote
To a darkening world
Or a darkening world view
The lesser known sibling to Love & Faith who
Gives something for us to cling too
This is not like leaning on a spiders web
It’s the flow and ebb of the tide
Problems seem a mile wide
Until hope has a place to reside.

Hope
Is a big word

Hope
The kind of hope,
That clung to Job like an old coat
His wife the last straw on the camel’s back
Fact
We can be just like that
Instead of whispering hope
The words she spoke
Hung like a rope
Around Job’s neck
His whole world’s broke
He’s starts to choke.
Throwing words more like knives.
When all someone needs is the hope of knowing someone’s there.

Hope is a big word.
Don’t abandon it
Give it away
Matt 2:13-end