As we end one year and begin another, may I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a joyful and peaceful New Year. Most of us will be glad to see the end of 2020 and we hope and pray for better news for 2021. So much has happened and now with the prospect of a vaccine for the virus, it is enough to lift our spirits. We can see a pin-prick of light at the end of the dark tunnel. Let’s hope that we are able to meet with our families and/or close friends over the Christmas period.
At time of writing this I am not sure of what we shall be able to do as a church this year. Whatever restrictions are lifted, it will be a Christmas that is much less organised, planned and activity filled than usual, we will have to be flexible! For some that may bring a sigh of relief, for others great disappointment. The government are making plans for regulations around Christmas although I expect they will be subject to change depending on the course of infections.
My thoughts turned towards Advent a few weeks ago. Traditionally at Christ Church we have a new Bible verse to use throughout the year – one that gives us hope and I felt that the following was appropriate, from Hebrews 12.1 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ I think I would add verses 2-3 as well, even though it is a bit long! There is this sense of us being in this life together with so many others – even those who have gone before us!
When I was 12 in my first year of high school, in the summer was the Cross-Country Run! Each class had to enter four girls and four boys. In my class we had some great runners and three girls were willing to run but we needed four. No-one else would. The teacher was waiting, and waiting! Finally, I put my hand up. I’m not a great runner. I can put my feet one in front of the other but not very quickly. I volunteered because no-one else would. I reminded them that I was not a great runner.
The day came and we set off. One girl in my class came first and the other two were ranked well too. I was second from last. I had run the whole way and I was shattered. I was so pleased though when my classmates – boys and girls all came up and said well done to me! My class came first despite my low ranking. It meant that the average rankings put us in the lead. They were a very kind bunch of twelve year olds. I’ve never forgotten that.
This passage speaks to us of getting rid of weights and sin that we so easily hold onto. We are encouraged to get rid of these encumbrances – then we shall be all the more swift and our journey will be lighter. We are not racing against one another of course, but we are moving towards a prize and the Hebrew writer shows us the way to help make that journey an easier one. We are surrounded by one another as well as that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us – cheering us on as we cheer one another on.
This coming year, let us as a church reflect on what weighs us down. We have a saviour who is able and willing to help us as we navigate the future and come to terms with life after the pandemic. In some ways it feels like the beginning of new race – what might that look like at Christ Church?
With kind regards and blessings for Advent and Christmas,
Revd Gerri Tetzlaff