Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey in 2020.
On the twenty-fifth day of Advent, 2020, Brooke Prentis reflects on a big year and the birth of Jesus: a truly unprecedented event.
We made it
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
Christmas Day 2020.
We made it.
Today will be a mixture of emotions for many peoples. For some, families long separated will celebrate being together for the first time in many months or perhaps the first time this year. For some, ramifications of a COVID-19 outbreak commencing in Sydney’s Northern Beaches means many will be separated from family and friends, unable to cross borders, with gatherings restricted. Some will be spending today in hotel quarantine, in self-isolation, or in lockdown in Aged Care homes. Many have had holiday plans thrown into chaos and uncertainty.
Actually, not all of us made it. Many will look around their Christmas table and grieve the friends and family who have passed this year - 1.7 million people have died around the world from COVID-19. Those, family and friends, who died from other causes and where we weren’t allowed to attend funerals or funeral numbers were restricted. Those we lost to suicide and miscarriage. Those who died and suffered at the hands of injustice in these lands now called Australia - the Aboriginal Aunty who died in custody and the many other Aboriginal peoples. Missing from our tables are the, at least, 48 Australian women who have died at the hands of violence, many from violence from a husband or intimate partner. We also lament asylum seekers who committed self-harm, the three billion animals killed or displaced by the Australian bushfires of 2019/2020: 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs, let alone those killed or displaced by climate change and human activity like destruction of forests. My fear is that in my lifetime the only way to see a koala will be in a zoo.
Christmas Day 2020. What does it bring for you?
I’m sure today will be a moment to reflect individually on the whole of the year 2020 and if you are able to gather with others the year 2020 will be a topic of conversation at the Christmas lunch/dinner table today. Perhaps the new terms and phrases of 2020 will be discussed – “you’re on mute”, “the new normal”, “flatten the curve”, “contract tracing”, “social distancing”, “zoombombing”, and the Aussie slang “iso” and “rona”. Perhaps the conversation might even extend to “I can’t breathe”, “black lives matter”, “racism”, “7 years too long”, “fund our future not gas”, “safe climate for all”. But I’m sure whatever the discussion these words will probably come up:
Christmas Day 2020.
I made it.
I know my day will be filled with joy and hope, pain and lament, excitement and exhaustion, and celebration and sadness.
2020 years ago, the birth of Jesus would possibly have been described as unprecedented, unimaginable, unbelievable. And whilst Jesus birth is still unprecedented, today we can imagine and today we do believe. I hope whatever your day holds, whether with family, with friends or on your own, that the birth of Jesus, our saviour, reignites your hope in the world. I know every day I cling to Jesus. I know through that clinging and because of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, my hope is reignited every day. My hope is also in you: you who are reading this right now, because every person reminds me of Jesus, and Jesus reminds me to pursue justice. Oh that Jesus would rend the heavens and come down! Today, and every day, may Jesus look on us and find us, a movement of people, praying and pursuing Jesus and justice. May we find hope in Jesus and hope in each other. . . even for the weary.
Brooke Prentis is a descendant of the Waka Waka peoples, an Aboriginal Christian Leader, and CEO of Common Grace. Brooke dreams of an Australia built on truth, justice, love, and hope.