Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sing it, shout it, whisper it and live it

I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone!*

If you have ever played the angel in a nativity play, you will have said those words, or something very  like them. Announcing, not just good news, but the greatest news ever - the birth of Jesus, the birth of the saviour.

It is wonderful to be able to give good news to people. To tell some-one that they have been accepted for a job they really wanted. To tell some-one that their calling has been affirmed. To share the news that a couple are to be married. To share the news that a child has been born.

Yesterday I was watching the trailer for the film, The Theory of Everything" which is being released in the UK in January. It is an account of the life of Stephen Hawking, the well-known theoretical-physicist who wrote the must-have book "A Brief History of Time" which decorated many coffee tables in the 1990s.

Stephen Hawking lives with ALS, a degenerative motor neurone disease. He is now almost completely paralysed.  He was diagnosed with ALS while at university and, in the film there is a brief exchange between the doctor and the young Stephen Hawking. The doctor tells him that he has ALS and what that will mean. Stephen Hawking then says, "The brain, what about the brain?" and the answer is "The brain is not affected. Your thoughts won't change, it's just no-one will know what they are." 

Stephen Hawking is still able to communicate his thoughts with the aid of advanced and expensive technology, because not to communicate his ideas would be unbearable for him and a loss for the world. Important ideas and insights are to be shared - or they die unnoticed.

And the angels said, "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced."

At Christmas we sing of tidings of great joy.
We sing of the baby born in Bethlehem.
We sing of the birth of the saviour.
We sing of good news for all people.

The news is just too good, too important to be kept to ourselves.
It is not enough to know about it, we have to share it.
We have to share it through our words, through our actions, through our very being.
We have to share it with family and friends, with neighbours and colleagues.
We have to share it with those who have never heard it before.

Thomas Herbert O'Driscoll writes these beautiful words in the final verse of his hymn "Sing of a God in majestic divinity" (Singing the Faith 13)

Sing of this God who in glory and mystery
chooses to lie in humanity's womb,
enters the prison and pain of our history,
rises triumphant and opens the tomb.
This news has to be shared.

Will you share the good news this Christmas, and throughout the year?
Will you sing it, shout it, whisper it and live it?
It is too important to let yourself be silenced.

Have a blessed and happy Christmas and share the good news!

This message can be heard here

* Luke 2:10, Living Bible

Monday, 8 December 2014

Speak out!

I've just read another document, a report from an inspirational event, in which people are quoted as saying, "Church Leaders should speak out more."
There is rarely a meeting where this phrase is not used and, as one designated a Church Leader I need to hear it and I do.

My immediate response is to think of the many times that I have spoken out, as have others, about a variety of issues. Sometimes this has been reported in the media. Sometimes I have blogged. Sometimes I have spoken at public meetings. Most often I have preached - I hope prophetically where necessary and appropriate. The same is true of other church leaders. Some are reported more often by the media - that is the way of things - but we do speak out.

However, my immediate response could be described as (and possibly is) too defensive.

The challenge is there.
"Church leaders should speak out more."
Speak out about injustice.
    Speak out about discrimination.
        Speak out about abusive behaviour.
            Speak out about war and peace.
                Speak out about love.
Speak out about God.

So I will continue to try to speak out more.

I will continue to speak out about all the issues above and others.
I will continue to speak out about them whether they are issues in the wider community or issues in the church. For, make no mistake, there are issues of injustice, discrimination, abuse, war and peace within the church as well as in wider society. The church needs to hear about God too. All of us need to be reminded of our calling as disciples.

All of us need to speak out more.

I will continue to speak out - will you?

"A voice crying in the wilderness
Prepare the way of the Lord"