Crossing the Borders of
Hope and Happiness
Crossing the Borders of Hope and Happiness
by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO | Archbishop
Christmas is just around the corner. Less than a month away, a time understood traditionally as one of glorious love and laughter, bringing people together in a spirit of harmony and joy, exchanging gifts and also giving the gift of time.
The whole community shares in this time for giving thanks and connecting with God, with family, with friends, no matter what their faith commitment may be.
These traditions have been disrupted over the past couple of years. Our physical connections have been tried by border restrictions, social distancing and the constraints of COVID-19. Even here in the ‘safest place on earth’, we are reminded every day of loved ones who have died, dangers of isolation, profound impacts on mental, emotional and spiritual health.
This Christmas, there is a bright ray of hope as some are able to cross borders, and so many can be together after so much time apart.
For others, however, this isn’t possible, and for others again loneliness remains a fact of life which has nothing to do with the pandemic.
The past two years will be remembered as a period of global uncertainty and upheaval, an invisible virus holding us to ransom, fearing that life might never be the same again. United in fear, we have also been united in scrambling to discover a vaccine to protect ourselves against a terrifying new enemy, breaking every previous record to shield ourselves against sickness and death - only to find ourselves in the bizarre situation where some are more afraid of cure than disease!
Scientific successes aside, preachers of fear are about their usual trade this year, utilizing all their familiar tactics and all the new technique they can muster – sowing division and suspicion and disunity wherever possible. But what if national and state borders and physical isolation are the least of our worries compared to walls of separation built in minds and hearts? What if all the talk of individual rights in the face of vaccination mandates is not the freedom we really need?
Whatever else it is about, first and foremost Christmas is about minds and hearts. It is about taking our eyes off ourselves long enough to be able to see each other, and about learning all over again to see God in each other. Just as we know that the pandemic will not be over until every living person is protected against its ravages, the Christmas story invites us to look up and look around, and reach out in concern and care for one another. In a word, the Christmas story is about love, discovering a bigger world where love is stronger than fear. God’s love for the world born in Jesus.
The most significant border to come down this Christmas could result from replacing selfish fear with selfless love, but this is a matter of wishing and willing, and the weeks leading up to Christmas are perfect for practicing our dance steps. Choose to be kind, and find ways to show a little kindness – to the woman camped these nights outside your supermarket who still had a home last Christmas, and the unemployed men seeking cash at traffic lights. Encourage family and friends and neighbours to do the same, and hold governments to account in the way they spend our tax dollars.
God comes to us at Christmas in a new-born baby, just as God comes to us each day in others who are equally helpless, seeking our help, needing our care. In a world often short on hope, what a wonderful gift the birth of Jesus is, the beginning of a fresh new world and a fresh new way of living, of solidarity and justice and peace – peace on earth, and good will to all.