Something new is coming

This year I will be celebrating my third Christmas in Parktown. It feels like our perception of the world has changed dramatically in a short span of time. Across the world, in the aftermath of the pandemic, and the ongoing war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis is forcing us to review our futures. In South Africa, the situation is exacerbated by loadshedding and the political scandal of Farmgate. Our pessimism diminishes our ability for hope.

Deep mistrust is the reaction of deteriorating mental health. Cancel Culture is the social revolution of Millennials, and particularly Gen Zs, who like the hippies in the 70s, want to assert themselves, live out their preferences, and want to break free from the conventions, the perceived restrictions and criticism of the preceding generation. Climate anxiety is becoming a pervasive psychological phenomenon. Yet ironically, I see a young generation increasingly lonely.

In a recent census in the UK statistics indicate that Christians are now a minority group. These findings reveal perhaps more a response against institutional religion than a rise in secularism. There is an increasing acceptance that religion offers holistic commentary on life. So, the perceived decline in Christianity rather demonstrates the quest for authentic connection, which the church struggles to offer as it becomes administratively encumbered in response to legislation and the need to maintain systems. A new reformation could be imminent. The culture is ripe for renewal as it searches for real hope. The promise of this is that a renewed personal vision will generate a renewed political and moral vision.

Burnout, quiet quitting, depression, and adrenal fatigue collectively is the silent pandemic shifting economic and social paradigms. The Christmas story has not lost its value, in fact I would argue that its message is probably more potent than it has been in decades, if not centuries. The global stage is set for the Savior of the World. This can of course be exploited, but we should not resist for the sake of holding onto the old, the awakening of people’s searching. There is a spiritual light shining amid the darkness, and people, proverbial shepherds and magi, both worker class and intellectuals, are following the light.

Every one of us are consumers and contributors of culture. We can assist in preparing a way, like John the Baptist, for others to find hope and joy. The world is becoming more integrated, where you simply cannot hide your faith for much longer, which could bring persecution. If you are to suffer for your convictions, it can serve as a beautiful sacrifice, as one who is so saturated with goodness that nobody will be able to deny that you were spiritually inspired.

When ‘these things’ [natural disasters, wars, and famines] start to happen, says Jesus (Matthew 25:8), do not become frightened, they are merely the birth pangs that signal something new. As Christ is born into our world, he does not require perfection, just the humility to believe, and to admit that you need him (Romans 10:9). When you do this, you are ready for a renewal that inspires eternal meaning. Welcoming Christ into our lives start in our homes, in our immediate communities, where we choose values, such as kindness, against our egos, and of giving despite our immediately comforts.

Make this Christmas truly memorable,

Rev Eben

Advent/Christmas 2022