We can be peo­ple of hope in a time of re­ces­sion

Bray People - - Bray People -

Arch­bishop of Dublin and Glendalough The Most Rev Dr. John Neill

Christ­mas is fre­quently as­so­ci­ated with ex­trav­a­gance, but this year for most of us, it will be less so. Words such as cut­back, re­dun­dancy, em­i­gra­tion, down­turn and clo­sure are once again heard on the news ev­ery day. Nei­ther the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, nor the sense of de­spon­dency that it has caused, can be de­nied.

It is in this real world that we will be paus­ing to cel­e­brate Christ­mas. Christ­mas at its heart car­ries a mes­sage of ex­trav­a­gance. Christ­mas is the story of God’s ex­trav­a­gance to­wards us. The char­ac­ter­is­tic of this ex­trav­a­gance is not mate- rial, it is God’s love shown in Je­sus. This love is without limit. It be­gins with the birth in Beth­le­hem, but goes on in a life lived for oth­ers at great cost, and in the end a life laid down and raised so that oth­ers might live. If God’s love had been of­fered in a story of great ma­te­rial wealth, we would hardly be cel­e­brat­ing it two thou­sand years later, but God’s love of­fered in Je­sus of Nazareth con­tin­ues to reach out to us to­day.

It is ur­gent that we do not be­come peo­ple ob­sessed with the neg­a­tive words of an eco­nomic re­ces­sion. Of course we must be re­al­is­tic in our at­ti­tude to the ma­te­rial re­sources at our dis­posal, but there is more to life than this. Christ­mas re­minds us that there are gifts to be re­ceived and shared with oth­ers which re­flect the ex­trav­a­gance of God. Th­ese gifts in­clude trans­formed re­la­tion­ships, love, for­give­ness and heal­ing, freely of­fered in Je­sus Christ. It is in th­ese that the seeds of hope be­gin to grow.

Hope grows as peo­ple reach out to oth­ers in the sim­plest of ways – a mo­ment to spare for the lonely and iso­lated, a word of en­cour­age­ment to those fac­ing dif­fi­culty, a help­ing hand to those strug­gling in one way or an­other.

At a deeper level, hope is re­alised when at­tempts at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion are made, for­give­ness of­fered, and wrongs righted. We can be peo­ple of hope in a time of re­ces­sion. To of­fer hope in the name of Christ is to give a gift be­yond price.

The most Revd Dr. John Neill.

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