‘A new year and reflections on the year 2021’
At this time of the year there are always multiple attempts across the media to try and summarise the year just past. For 2021 the need to try and make sense, find hope and seize on signs of optimism is not easy. Finding a way to talk about another complicated year is fraught with difficulty. 2021 has been cloaked with sadness and uncertainty for so many of us that chinks of light are hard to see. For us, as a family, it began in the sadness of the death of much-loved family member. Globally, there were the shocking and distressing scenes from Washington of rioters trying to disrupt the democratic process. Throughout the year there were too many times when it was best to avoid taking in too much news. The names of Sarah Everard and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes will not be forgotten; neither will the horror of the way they died. But the picture is always complex, night and day always coexist. In the course of 2021, I have received 3 vaccinations to protect me from the ravages of Covid-19. That is miraculous. It is a glimmer of dawn in the midst of night-time.
The birth of a baby in 1st century Bethlehem also came at a time of social disruption and uncertainty. The politics of the day and order for people to return to register for a census in the town of their family meant the child ended up being born in a stable and placed in a makeshift cradle. Shortly after the Magi visit bearing their extravagant gifts, the family is forced to flee with their young child and seek asylum in Egypt to evade Herod’s execution order for all young boys. Darkness and light are woven together in the nativity story. And for us having just lived through 2021 and the characters who experienced first-hand the events of the 1st century nativity, the question of God’s plan hangs over it all. Where is God in the night-time? How do we find God’s dawn? What direction do we take? What are we looking for? What does it all mean?
But the story of the Magi’s visit is all about persistent light. It’s a story that looks for the light. Even though they were clearly unsure about where the light would lead, the Magi followed the star until they found the child and despite the unexpected scene before them, they laid their gifts at the feet of the baby king and worshipped him. The star shone in the darkness of the night. The Magi looked for it, they scanned the dark skies and found it. Like us they had no idea of what would happen next, but the twists and turns in their story, the darkness of Herod’s regime don’t dim the light. The star is there, leading and directing, the Magi are required to keep following and trusting. In the night-time of 2021 and uncertainty of 2022 I hope we believe that God’s light still shines and leads.
May you be aware of the light shining for you in the New Year, whatever it may bring.
With love and prayers,
Posted – 6 February 2022