We can be people of hope in a time of recession
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.