As we leave 2016 behind we might be glad of its passing. It has been a moving year – and by that I’m not only referring to the way people have been moved by the deaths of so many public figures and celebrities, although this has certainly been true. It’s also been moving by the fact that many people around the world have physically moved from one place to another during the year and not always because they have wanted to
We’ve continued to see migrants moving from country to country seeking refuge, safety and a new life away from violence and war. In recent weeks the focus has again been on Syria and the city of Aleppo where evacuations have been taking place. Earlier in the year we saw the refuges in the Jungle camp in Calais moved as it was closed down. In this country we saw David Cameron move out of Downing Street and Teresa May move in as a result of Brexit and Britain’s vote to move out of the EU, and now, at the end of the year we see Donald Trump preparing to move into the White House, and who knows what other moves that will signal.
We’ve just celebrated Christmas, and heard a story full of people who were on the move. There’s Mary and Joseph, who had to move to Bethlehem to register in the Roman census. There are the shepherds who first heard the news of Jesus birth and came from the hillsides to visit the stable. Then there are the Wise Men who travelled from the east to worship him and bring him gifts, and after Jesus was born the Bible tells us that the holy family themselves became refugees and had to flee to another country to escape the wrath of the jealous King Herod. Lots of people on the move.
But above all, this is a story about how God was on the move when, in the birth of Jesus, God moved in beside us, becoming not just our neighbour but our friend.
And you might be sitting there thinking that this is all it is – a story which bears no relevance to our lives today. The world itself has moved on hasn’t it? Yes, the world has moved on, but God has moved with it and continues to be present in our world. That is what Christmas is all about; the incarnation, God made real in the world and in our lives today and tomorrow. In 2017, God still wants to be born in us, to move in amongst us, to be our friend.
So may God continue to move with you as we enter another new Year, and may God’s richest blessings be yours wherever life’s journey might take you.
May I wish you all a peaceful and joyful New Year.