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Hope for the poor sods who are afraid to be at home!

January 26, 2013

I enjoyed all the snow that we have had, at least to begin with. The Norfolk landscape changed into a picture postcard of white trees, fields and churches. But all of that beauty was also a nuisance. The drive needed clearing, then clearing again. Travel was difficult – I nearly got stuck several times. At one point it was so bad that, for the first time ever, I didn’t make it to the crematorium for a committal. The funeral in church went well, and we set off with me in the hearse. We made it through to the A road with only slight delays, and then we sat. The road was one sheet of ice, there were lorries in ditches and ambulances trying to get through. Eventually, we missed our slot at the crematorium. We had to chat with the family by the side of the road and agreed to turn back. We arrived back at the farm where we had started many hours before, and I said the committal prayers so that the family would not have to endure a 30 hour long funeral.

Driving has been tricky. I’ve just got the car so I don’t want to have to come home and sheepishly tell Viv, “I have some good news and some bad news about the new car”.

What’s the good news?”

Well the airbag works!”

I found the snow an inconvenience but seeing children building snowmen and having snowball fights, I remembered snowy days when I was a child. I remember wishing for snow, wishing even more for school to close so that I could be at home and play out all day. So I got a shock when I went into the primary schools and the high school. I was expecting to hear how the children were sulking that the school was open. I was expecting to hear stories of absences due to snowmen that needed finishing, sleds that needed using and snow ball fights that couldn’t be put off. But no….

The staff in the local schools were dealing with children who were traumatised by the school closures. These children had such difficult home lives that school is a haven for them, and the reality of more days at home a living nightmare! Home should be the place where a child feels safe, nurtured and secure. But sadly this is not the case for so many children, even in our lovely rural villages and towns.

Something is going very wrong with in too many families; and social services, schools and churches are having to pick up the pieces. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I had spent time talking to young people who were dreading the Christmas holidays. Some were in tears just at the thought of all the stress of being at home. I talk to the children and young people involved, I see the horror of it all and I feel so helpless. What can I do? What can anyone do?

It was in this frame of mind that I came to reading Luke 4, particularly, Luke 4.18 where Jesus quotes Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

How can this be fulfilled while children are frightened to be at home? How can this be fulfilled when we have so many parents who don’t know how to parent? How can this be fulfilled while the church distracts itself with arguments that everyone else considers to be irrelevant?

These words of Isaiah did come true in Jesus: Through these words those who are oppressed by their parents can have hope, there is hope for hopeless families, there is hope for all. But that hope needs proclaiming once again.

You and I are part of the fulfilment. I need to show that I care, as part of Christ’s body here on earth. I need to get involved, and show by my actions that there is hope. That is why Foodbank is so important, that is why it is so important to get involved in schools. I am also sure that there is so much more that we can do locally so I keep my eyes open.

There are also ways in which I can help to bring hope more widely. Buying local supports local families and brings stability to our communities. Buying Fair Trade offers support and a living wage and hope of a future for families struggling in other countries. Looking after our planet and reducing our use of fossil fuels gives hope for all of us on this earth.

In short, this world today is in just as much need of the hope that Jesus gives as it was 2,000 years ago. What I want is for me, and all of us, to be able to say, ““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” I want each of us to be able to say those words and know that something of that prophecy is fulfilled through each one of us, each day. 

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