This Christmas, Angie Dowling reflects on the privilege of partnering with God to bring healing and hope to her community.
Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!
Social distancing! Self- isolation ! Quarantine! Lockdown! Who would have thought that these would have been the buzzwords of 2020 - but they have!
Many of us have experienced grief, heartbreak, anxiety and trauma of separation from our loved ones, our families, our community and from the everyday things that we have taken for granted. Removed in one aspect, yet so closely reconnected to the lives of thousands of others for whom isolation from community is their reality, I have come to rejoice in the awakening this season has brought to my life.
In Philippians, Paul speaks of joy, not from a place of his current circumstances but from the revelation that the incarnate Creator God had given him the privilege of serving and bringing good news to all of his image bearers wherever he went.
Christmas 2020 bears little hope for many people in Australia and the wider world as people grapple with personal loss, financial stress and fear of the future.
So why do I come to rejoice? The Christmas story of the Creator God coming to earth has always intrigued me. He didn’t enter our space as a superhero, but as a vulnerable baby depending on humans to care for him until he was at a stage where he could grapple with the complexities of life.
God knew of Mary and Joseph’s frailty, their propensity for failure (they lost Jesus once!), and their poverty status, but the God of all knowing still entrusted humanity to care for his precious baby son!
So many times as Christians we are told to trust God - but what about the reverse? God, the God of the entire universe, trusts us! And it is from this perspective that I have joy. What a profound privilege it is to know that the Creator God through the presence of his Holy Spirit trusts me to partner with him to bring healing and hope to our community.
As I look around my neighbourhood, I see those who are lonely, marginalised, weary and exhausted, not just from not just the effects of COVID-19, but also from decades of systematic and political failures. I count it as sheer joy that I, as equally broken, frail and weary, have been entrusted by God, as Mary and Joseph were, to be part of the scaffolding for my community until they, too, can find their footing in this complex world that we live in.
I imagine Mary and Joseph’s attentiveness to the needs of their newborn son in the provision of nutrition and shelter, lavishing him with encouragement for every little smile and new movement, and acting on the wisdom they were given in order to protect their son.
This imagining fills my heart with joy that I can bring alive the good news story through practical, personal and tangible ways that can help change the circumstances of life to who also bear the image of Jesus.
This Christmas let us all rejoice in not just the gift of Jesus Christ, but the giver he has blessed us all to be!
Angie Dowling is a WA-based Tearfund Ambassador and group leader.