“A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices” – CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2020
The traditional Christmas carols that we sing have beautiful verses that carry special meaning – words like, “A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn“. This particular carol captures the harshness and hope that collide every Christmas but especially so this year, 2020.
It has been a tough year. The world is weary. We are all weary and worn down after enduring a year that has brought challenges like we’ve never seen before. A global pandemic, economic recession, mass unemployment, racial unrest with demonstrations across the world and illness and death from COVID-19. Directly related are the increased use of social media for worship, meetings and education.
In addition, this year has pulled back a veil that has made us more aware of the challenges that others face in our own communities. Some people have struggled with chronic diseases that wear them down over time while many people silently suffer with health issues. Other families watched as their loved ones slowly retreated into the world of dementia. There are many silent journeys which we don’t see behind weary smiles and the face masks that have now become a part of our daily existence.
To some, this year might feel like a lifetime while for others, it might feel like a year wasted. Most of us, however, would probably regard the year 2020 as a way station along life’s journey to pause, reflect and pray. Christmas reminds us that, while darkness surrounds us and troubles exist, God comes to us and meets us at our points of need.
As we all have acknowledged, this hurting world is in need of real hope and this hope can be seen through the same lens as the people who were waiting for a Messiah thousands of years ago. Jesus was born in a time weary with suffering, weary of Roman occupation, weary of religious oppression and weary of waiting for God’s promise of the Messiah to be fulfilled. Our world continues to be weary and the hope of Christmas tells us that despite the problems in our world, God has not abandoned us. Let us rejoice. What Jesus promises us, is “the thrill of hope.” No matter how ‘bad’ your year has been, no matter what kind of problems and struggles you are facing right now, no matter what kind of season of darkness or pain you are in, let me encourage you to never abandon hope. Hope must remain alive even in our deepest pain and in the most hopeless circumstances because God is with us.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Those serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID 19 have given of themselves again and again in selfless ways to ensure that the rest of us are safe. We owe them a debt of gratitude. I take this opportunity on behalf of the Methodist Church of Barbados, to say thank you to front line workers for their spirit of generosity and concern. There was a tremendous outpouring of giving during the period of lockdown. This occurred in small communities, among and between neighbours and at the family level, far away from the glare of the media.
While many Barbadians gave and gave generously I want to encourage a larger framework of giving towards national development and the alleviation of hunger and poverty. It makes absolute sense for us to wish each other a life built daily on smiles, dreams and hope amidst the tears and fatigue. We can all resolve to share some of what we have as Jesus the Messiah demands of us.
I take this opportunity to wish everyone, including all Methodists, a blessed Christmas filled with love and joy and a happy and peaceful New Year. The Methodist Community assures you of our continued prayers during this season of the Holy Nativity and beyond. Let’s keep on proclaiming the glory of God through our worship, our relationships, our giving and through engaging in social action. In this way, we too will play our part in building the kingdom of God.