2020 – A year of reflection
As Christmas approaches – and maybe for the first time in living memory – society may actually be celebrating this unique historical event, aka Christmas 2020, with the right attitude.
Christmas should be a time when the world focuses on the significance of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
To be fair, there are some who do use this time to reflect on Christ’s birth and being charitable, but in truth, Christmas seems to have been overtaken by an inordinate focus by the wider world to use this life-changing religious festival as an opportunity to spend lots of money on presents, gorge on food and go out and party.
One good thing that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying lockdown is that it has caused everyone to think deeply about life, and reflect on what’s truly important.
From conversations I’ve had and articles I’ve read, 2020 has made many come to some of the following conclusions about life and faith:
- Humans are mortal. We are not here forever. Death can take us at any moment, and that’s why it’s important for us to get right with God, forgive our enemies, love our neighbours, and fulfil God’s purposes in our lives.
- Family, friendship and socialising with others are what make life enjoyable and meaningful.
- God is our strength, protector and healer. He is also our peace. Praying and reading Scripture can be the perfect antidote to anxiety and stress.
- There’s more goodness, kindness and generosity in the world than we ever thought possible.
- We are adaptable people, and can deal with drastic change. Look how everyone adapted to living, working, worshipping and commemorating life’s key moments via Zoom or other online apps, when the lockdown stopped them meeting others publicly.
- No lockdown, pandemic, tragedy or circumstance can stop the purposes of God from being fulfilled; for example, during the height of the pandemic, people of all ages came out in their droves to protest against the unjust killing of George Floyd and to state that Black lives matter.
- Even during life’s difficulties, God can still bless His people. He is also a provider and a ‘very present help in the time of need’.
- There is no use in holding on to bitterness and hatred. Now is the time to forgive.
2020 has been a difficult year for many, and none of us know what 2021 holds. We don’t even know if we’ll be allowed to have our family over for dinner!!! However, the message of Christmas is this: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, in a stable, and came to save humanity from their sins.
He also came to give us peace, joy and hope in the midst of confusion, and if ever there was a time when we need to take to heart the reason for Christ’s birth, it’s now.
Pray for Millennials leading the way
In recent years, young people across the world have shown that they are passionate about social justice, and have called on governments and political leaders to build a more fair and just society.
In fact, the passion Millennials have shown on justice issues has been a pleasant surprise. Many had written this age group off as being “snowflakes” and “entitled”. The past few years, and especially the last few months, have demonstrated this is definitely not the case.
In early 2010, young people led the Arab Springs that took place in the Middle East, where they called for a more democratic society. Last year, young people led uprisings in Hong Kong, and again called for more democratic structures, needed in light of growing Chinese influence on the island. In June, young people led worldwide BLM protests following the state killing of George Floyd, and just recently, young people in Nigeria led the #ENDSARSNOW movement, calling for the closing down of a sector of the police known for abusing their powers.
Like the prophet Amos in 5:24, young people are keen to see justice ‘roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream’. They could also be described as the ‘Joshua Generation’ – youth who are passionate about justice, purposeful, action-orientated and willing to fight for what’s right.
As young people protest, demonstrate and campaign to rid society of unjust practices and promote justice, let’s continue to pray for them, and support them in their endeavours.
Fulfilling my purpose
Being included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and awarded an MBE, is a defining life moment, and caused me to reflect on my life and my work.
When I started out as writing the Voice newspaper’s ‘Soul Stirrings’ column in 1988, I did not envisage at all that I would ever be awarded an MBE – even though in the course of my work I had interviewed and written articles on Christians honoured by the Queen.
That’s because my focus was on fulfilling my purpose in shining a spotlight on the Black Church, the great and sometimes not-so-great things it was doing, and how God was impacting lives and communities. For me, that has been enough. Any accolades I’ve received have been a bonus – and that includes my MBE.
But what a fantastic, brilliant bonus!!!