In a Christmas message to the island, Bishop Robert Paterson reflects on the economic difficulties we have all faced and urges people not to lose sight of what’s important.
We’re not good at nothing, are we? As long as we’ve got things, we’re OK but nothing leaves us a bit at a loss.
The island has been hit by the banking crisis and all that has been washed up in its wake.
Some people have lost jobs, which is a dreadful kind of nothing-ness and can lead people to lose their sense of self-worth.
There’s no easy solution to that crisis, of course, because we all know that when a society over-stretches its resources, something has to be done; generally the weakest suffer first and sometimes the most.
Politicians and those who control the purse-strings in both the government-funded and private sectors feel the moral pain of this crisis.
It is no wonder that Christians have found themselves not so much on one side or the other of the protest at St Paul’s Cathedral but on both sides.
Profligate speculators in the banks, property interests and so on may be chiefly to blame, but none of us gets away innocent.
We were all content to see house prices climb, investment income increase and standards of living soar – until, that is, it all came to a sticky end.
Then, of course, we looked for someone else to blame.
Now, as individuals and governments, we find we’re not good at nothing.
God is good at nothing.
When the time was right he sent his only Son into more-or-less the best definition of ‘nothing’ that there is.
Born with questions whispered behind hands about his parentage, of parents who had been ordered to re-locate temporarily to another place by an imperial power, laid to sleep in an animal’s feeding-trough, a child of a subjugated people, immediately exiled for a couple of years.
God does nothing very well indeed.
‘Take to heart among yourselves what you find in Christ Jesus: “He was in the form of God; yet he laid no claim to equality with God, but made himself nothing, assuming the form of a slave. Bearing the human likeness, sharing the human lot, he humbled himself, and was obedient, even to the point of death, death on a cross!”’
Those words from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians get to the heart of the message of Christmas – the emptying of God.
God is good at nothing but he isn’t good for nothing: discover him in Jesus at Christmas.
May the peace of Christ be in your heart and home.