“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child”, Luke 2:17
So, here we are again standing on the cusp of another year; truly, no one regrets saying farewell to 2020. The year was one overshadowed by the pandemic titled, COVID-19; it was not only an unprecedented illness but, in many forms, demonic. It bought pain, fear, grief, and untold loss in lives and livelihoods; it drove us away from families, friends, and human relationships; it droves us away from workplaces, schools, movies, parks and even from our church buildings. Many lives were lost, and when combined with the inability to grieve in traditional ways, we were left empty, lonely, and angry.
2020 also revealed the combination of politics driven by the twin evils of greed and racism which were so palpable, they became a shroud of deep-seated bitterness. The thin veneer of normalcy was ripped away by the vulgarity of the public execution of George Floyd along the horrible attempts to cover up the murders of Breonna Taylor and other unarmed and poor black people. These atrocities have led to an ongoing revolution the likes of which we have not witnessed since the sixties.
My friends, all of these cruelties combined with so many ongoing crises can be the evidence of the work of an alternative power which seeks in every way to negate the presence and power of goodness, hope and joy. Yet, this evermoving force of time brings us again to a new year. Many began 2020 lacking the sobriety that new beginnings and fresh starts often demand. Many of us will prefer to remain stuck in the chasm of yesterdays and times far long gone. Many of us will not trust the future based upon things all that was exposed in the fires of COVID-19, institutionalized racism and institutions which are no longer viable enough to support us in our new future. Yet, there are those who will grasp the world of ZOOM, MasterClass, Google Class and all the other leaps of progress which have been developed during the year of 2020.
My friends, as the shepherds discovered Jesus buried beneath swaddling clothes in a cold animal trough, they unearthed something truly amazing. Their amazing discovery remains an ongoing, unfolding mystery. The discovery was that the powerful presence of God cannot be denied, smothered, or limited by all the combined forces which may seek its elimination. For over 2020 years the Good News of Jesus Christ has lived on through plagues, wars, slavery, communism, capitalism, and despotic leaders. As we also stand in the same theological space as the shepherds, we are called to proclaim the same message, Tell the world that God is with us. Our churches will be called to do something in new and exciting ways. We will need to configure ourselves differently. We may need to continue to congregate in new ways and maybe in different spaces, and yet, the message remains the same, Go tell the world that Jesus Christ is born!