Bishop's Comment: ​Messengers of Good News

2nd January 2018

Jesus was on the move both in and outside the womb. His journey to Bethlehem was followed by an escape into Egypt. Growing up, Jesus had the annual family adventure of a trek from Nazareth to Jerusalem for festivals. His three years of public ministry were animated by movement from place to place and dynamic encounter with all sorts and conditions of people. 

The daily decisions of Mary and Joseph and the family that nurtured Jesus were made in the context of political and social tension. Judea, outpost of the Roman Empire, a land of contested ideals and disruptive power, was fertile ground for a new vision of love and service. Governors, rulers, priests and people each had to make their mind up about the thirty year old revolutionary rabbi from Galilee. 

They would have been familiar with the prophet Isaiah who, when he looked from desperate oppression to a better future, spoke of a messenger bearing good news of peace, contentment and salvation. Christians believe that hope is fulfilled completely in Jesus of Nazareth who lived, was crucified and raised from death, to reign over all things for ever. 

In a curious phrase, Isaiah was so excited by this hope that he said the messenger had beautiful feet. 

Where will your feet take you in the New Year and with what message? Will you be reminded of the precious ointment that was poured on Jesus' feet, in worship, at dinner, by someone who owed him her life? Will you follow the example of Jesus washing the disciples' feet as a servant? 

When you put on your shoes to leave the house in the morning can you pray that you will be a messenger of peace and hope? Will you journey with the message that goes beyond saving myself or even my church, to saving the world? 

The year ahead will have more than its fair share of social and political tension. People are longing for good news. Jesus left it to his followers to be messengers of his good news and now it is our turn in a confusing and selfish world to offer his transforming love by word and deed. Lost souls and listless citizens deserve nothing less. 

I pray that we Christians in Birmingham and region will rouse ourselves in 2018 as never before and so journey with Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that the world might be saved through him.