What is the ‘good news of great joy’ the angel announced on Christmas night? Each one of us will have their own version and down the ages we have sought to puts words to it. Poet John Milton, four hundred years ago, wrote;
The stars, with deep amaze, Stand fix’d in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence…
Even the stars are astonished by the event at Bethlehem. The good news is, first of all, about hope. When lost is a forest, we long to see some familiar landmark to give us our bearings. We may have a long and tough way to go but at least we know where we are going.
So hope, especially vague hope, is not enough. We must know what we are hoping for – in detail. It is Christmas and we are in Zimbabwe. What exactly are we hoping for? That ‘they’ would sort out the power shortages? Introduce a stable currency? Rescue the health services? Pay the teachers? Mend the potholes? All these – and many more. Above all, allow freedom to breath.
But even these ‘hopes’ can remain vague and ‘out there’ – someone else’s responsibility. Something more radical is needed to put flesh on hope. That ‘something’ has to do with our mentality – our way of thinking. Just to take the last, and least important, of the examples given: there are countries where a pothole would have a life expectancy of twenty-four hours at the most. We have potholes, where you could bury a cat, that have lasted months. Why? Because the consensus of people is that nothing can be done.
Hope will find no fertile soil until we begin to change our way of thinking, our way of looking at things. We are good at waiting; we are patient and that is a virtue. But to wait too long is to give in to hopelessness, to shrug and say there is no hope, there is nothing I can do. There may, indeed, be nothing I can do for now but I can still look at my mentality. Am I passive and just ‘going with the flow’ or am I trying to influence the flow? Develop a way of thinking that could be contagious and lead to a new consensus among people.
There is nothing revolutionary about this; it is simply healing our hope. From being a limp formless feeling, it becomes a searching expectant attitude ready to grasp every moment that offers a new outlook, a new vision, a new way – a hope that has flesh. That really would be good news.Post published in: Faith