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THE CHURCH
OF ENGLAND “When the
power of love
overcomes the
love of power
the world will
know peace”
Rupert Hankey Writes about
“Mary had no
option but to
trust God in
a time of
uncertainty,
and nor do I”
< Many of us will think of bustling High Streets with shops full of twinkling Christmas decorations, or perhaps a lunch table groaning
under turkey with all the trimmings.

These and lots of other images that could spring to mind are, of course, a far cry from that first Christmas. The gospel narratives don’t give us any clue as to how Mary felt in those last days of her pregnancy, but my guess is that, as she and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem and then searched for a room where she could have her baby as comfortably and safely as possible, Mary will have been more stressed and anxious than she had ever been in her life. Having a baby is a stressful enough event at the best of times; not being able to find a proper room, and then having to make do with an animal shed (imagine!) must have made it even more so.

As I look forward to this year’s Christmas celebrations, I find myself identifying with Mary more than in previous years. Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant (don’t even go there!), but I do find myself facing a Christmas that could be a bit different. I wrote last month about the trip I undertook to China towards the end of my mini-sabbatical. Two months before I went to China, I had gone for a routine eye test. My optician referred me to the hospital eye clinic, who in turn referred me for an MRI scan. On the day I flew out to China, I was sitting in the Heathrow departure lounge a few minutes before boarding my flight, when I had a call from the Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at
Queen Mary’s Hospital to tell me the scan had shown there was a benign tumour in my brain which needed to be removed. This made for an interesting flight to China (especially since my headphones didn’t work, meaning I couldn’t watch any films, and nor did my overhead reading lamp, which meant I couldn’t read – so twelve hours was a long time to contemplate the news that I had a tumour in my head)! Even if it was benign!

Since returning from China I have had numerous outpatient appointments at Kings College Hospital, and have been told that surgery could take place in late December. I am very blessed to live so near Kings College, which is one of the best centres in the world for neurosurgery – but the prospect of having my brain rummaged about in – even by people who are very good at this sort of rummaging – is still disconcerting!

Which brings me round to the connection with Jesus’ mother, Mary. I must make it clear that the disruption to Mary’s life was far greater than my own current medical situation – she faced the stigma of pregnancy outside of marriage with the consequent possibility of rejection by Joseph –
and all this well before her ordeal of giving birth in an animal shed. But there is still a connection: Mary had no option but to trust God in a time of uncertainty, and nor do I. Mary found that God was absolutely good and faithful to her, and so will I.

We all know how easy it can be to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. But when those doubts creep in, that is the time to remember God’s ultimate guarantee that He will be there for those who turn to Him in faith and hope: He could have stayed safe and remote in heaven, but He didn’t. He came down into this world Himself in the Person of His Son, in the utter vulnerability of a new born baby. Even when Jesus’ life was ended by cruel execution, He smashed death and was raised to life. This is the God I am 100% happy to trust, no matter what this Christmas – or next year – holds.

I am still confident of this:

I will see the goodness of
the Lord
In the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13
And Faith