Hope the great­est gift

NewsMail - - OPINION - AN­DREW SCH­MIDT Rev. An­drew Sch­midt is from the Good Shep­herd Angli­can Church.

CHRIST­MAS is com­ing, I’m sure you have no­ticed.

One of the early signs is of course the mar­ket­ing, the Christ­mas gifts on dis­play, and I am an ab­so­lute sucker for them.

I love the idea that every­one is get­ting ready to share gifts as a sign of love.

I do worry, of course, about peo­ple go­ing into debt, or be­com­ing ex­ces­sively ma­te­ri­al­is­tic, but I choose to fo­cus on the pos­i­tive.

Gift giv­ing at this time of course re­flects the tra­di­tions of St Ni­cholas and the un­der­stand­ing of Christ as an un­de­served grace to the world, be­ing demon­strated to those that we love.

The other sign of Christ­mas that brings me great joy is the Christ­mas lights.

I en­joy walk­ing my dog and see­ing all the work that peo­ple have put into dec­o­rat­ing their houses, the na­tiv­i­ties, the stars and all the other dec­o­ra­tions.

They strike me as a very vis­i­ble sym­bol of hope, a light that shines bright­est in the dark­ness, and speaks mostly to those who are not in­side.

This is a rad­i­cal part of the Christ­mas mes­sage, that even in the dark times there is hope.

Hope may seem like a strange thing to de­scribe as rad­i­cal in the con­text of Christ­mas, where ev­ery child has hope, per­haps for a new game, a new ball, a new, what­ever the lat­est coolest thing is.

Chris­tian hope how­ever is dif­fer­ent, in that it is not a hope for self, or even a hope for some­one we know, rather it is a hope that goes wider.

We hope that there will be a re­veal­ing of the king­dom of God, which was greatly demon­strated in the birth of a small child, to an un­wed mother, who was a mem­ber of a sub­ject na­tion.

This sign of hope, speaks di­rectly against the lan­guage of fear that is so of­ten re­peated in the world.

Think about how many times we are told or en­cour­aged to fear oth­ers, and then seek a rea­son to hope in­stead, be­cause hope is a more pow­er­ful fuel for trans­for­ma­tion than fear can ever be.

Hope will call you to move for­ward, fear will en­cour­age you to re­main still.

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