Letter from a Member of the Ministry Team. Iffley Parish Magazine, January 2021.
I write this exactly a year after a general election campaign, centred on a three word tag, resulted in an unexpectedly large majority for a party committed to leaving the European Union without more ado. On the same day we heard reports of a new and virulent virus which was infecting humans in Wuhan, China. As we looked into 2020, nobody could have predicted how these events would shape the life of the whole world. These events have revealed just how profoundly and mutually dependent we are on each other as individuals, as communities and as nations.
We end this year feeling unfamiliar insecurity, denied much human contact, and lacking the freedom or confidence to do many of the activities that enrich and sustain us. The great themes of Advent fit this situation: darkness, longing, waiting. But even though this Advent has been like no other, it has also been a time of hope, and leading to the joy of celebrating Christmas.
Though many of us may make New Year’s resolutions, fewer keep them. But after a very difficult year for us all, I think that most of us have hopes for the new year. And so I offer some very broad areas in which we may have hopes for 2021.
Firstly, I hope that the great majority of people will accept the vital need for vaccination. Otherwise the virus will remain prominent and damaging, and postpone restoration of human flourishing. The rapid development of vaccines has underlined the essential role of science in responding to the pandemic. Let us hope for continuing and generous support for scientists worldwide to study the causes of and responses to pandemics now, and in the future, and to make their findings known ahead of political decision-making.
We live in a time when the control and agendas of the media are being concentrated in fewer and increasingly rich and sometimes corrupt hands. May we hope and speak up for a greater diversity and independence of the media, with less combat, and more accurate and independent presentation. And may we have the courage and strength to challenge greed and corruption wherever we witness it.
We see ever more clearly that the created world is a gift of great beauty and delicacy, and that it is of literally vital importance to us: let us hope that we share more fully within this life rather than exploiting it and disturbing its complex equilibria. The way we respond to this gift of life, like all gifts, is fundamental: if we treat it with contempt then we treat the giver with contempt.
May we encourage by word and action those who seek to reverse the increasingly wide gap between rich and poor in many places, so that nobody lacks a home, food, water, education, medical care and loving human contact.
There have been wonderful signs of deepening and widening friendships online this year, and of remarkable and newly- discovered creativity in the arts. Let us hope that they continue to grow and flourish.
At the most basic levels of our being, let us hope that in our thinking and communication we can try to replace the words I and me by we and us.
Although we have had a year like no other, let us be thankful for the blessings we have been given. May we think positively and prayerfully about our hopes for 2021, and may we take some steps to bring them about.
I wish you all a very happy and blessed New Year.
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