2014 WAS A TUMULTUOUS YEAR
All too frequently we have been reminded of the fragility of life – through the actions of political power play by Russia over Crimea and the shooting down of a passenger airliner in Ukraine; there have been the actions of religious fanaticism at the hands of ISIS in Iraq and Syria; and the abduction of teenage school girls in Nigeria (some two hundred and nineteen of whom are still missing) at the hands of Boko Haram; and the lone-wolf Islamicist action in Sydney this month.
Our world. In 1932, John Buchan (created Lord Tweedsmuir in the year he was appointed Governor-General of Canada) wrote a perceptive book entitled, A Prince of the Captivity. As the narrative develops Buchan identifies the political and economic complexities of Britain and Europe in the aftermath of the First World War. At one point he prophetically touches on the rise of German nationalism at the very time Hitler grabbed power. Using the language of the ‘Iron Hand’, his hero said: “The Iron Hand movement was on the face of it just an organization of ex-soldiers,… partly benevolent and partly nationalist. There were thousands of members who only joined to keep up the fellowship of the trenches. But there was an inner circle to it which was playing a bigger part in politics, and an innermost circle which meant real mischief… Peace in the world was the last thing they sought, for their only hope lay in a new and bigger ferment…” Buchan clearly understood the world in which we find ourselves – a world where we find enormous good, but where extraordinary evil wants to do its worst.
Discernment. It is into such a world that Jesus enjoins his followers, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Jesus wants us to be aware of the nature of our world. He wants us to be discerning about the motives of people around us, especially those who might seem to be with us and yet who, deep down, are utterly opposed to peace and goodwill.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel we have his statement, “All authority has been given to me…” and his commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… and teaching them all I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:16, 18f). “Go and make disciples…” – not simply converts, but men and women whose lives are being enriched and honed by God’s Word in the cause of Jesus Christ. Governments, economics, education and the rule of law have their place, but the call that transcends all is the challenge to change minds and hearts – to address the soul. For, we are more than the sum of our parts. We are spiritual beings, created with the potential to know God and glorify and enjoy him forever.
This is the challenge the Anglican Connection has taken on – one, by God’s mercy, we will continue to develop in 2015.
Never alone. The great thing is that we are never alone. Jesus said, ‘I am with you the whole of every day, until the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). In his Christmas Speech in 1939, as Britain entered a year of fierce onslaught, His Majesty, King George VI concluded with this quotation:
“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.”