John 1:6-8, 19-28
A few weeks ago the words of this beautiful gospel song performed by Mica Paris echoed through my bedroom as I listened to Radio 2. I couldn’t help but feel my heart filled with joyful hope as I reflected on the long night we find ourselves in at the moment.
It came in the middle of a tough time at home. My dad had tested positive for Covid-19 after developing symptoms and I was beginning to develop similar symptoms. It was an anxious time. We had no idea where this would lead – we’d had a relative die earlier in the year from it and he was younger than both my parents. How serious would my dad get it? How bad would my symptoms get? Would my mom get it? It was a dark time and all I could do was pray and hold onto hope, reminding myself that I’m not alone in this situation.
And I wasn’t alone. I drew strength from all sorts of people. One particular place was work. ‘Work?’ I hear you respond. Yes, work. I find myself in a team where we don’t just talk about work, but we talk about how we are and what’s going in our lives. Previously, I’ve never opened up in this way, but I’d made a commitment after my breakdown that I’d talk more openly about things. My mental health needed the openness and the opportunity to talk. As we shared with one another about how we were feeling (all on Zoom, of course), we began to realise that none of us is without our challenges or troubles. There was something in sharing that provided us with strength: the care, the compassion, the time given to each other – the patience developed by knowing just where each other is at. There was a sense of love, not just that gooey love of niceness, but a deep sense of real love, divine love – Love come among us, present through the Word come to earth.
It’s exactly this Love that John the Baptiser is preparing the way for. This is Love that comes to earth, not to condemn, but to transform: to show us the better way of being human; to bring light into the darkness and to show what really matters. John knew this was something big and important – it wasn’t like previous prophets. This was God stepping into time and space to build a community of love, united and bound together through God’s Holy Spirit.
That love, found in community, is that which sustains us. It sustained me. Thankfully Covid-19 has passed through our home and we are all well after a period of illness, but I can’t help think about all those who continue to suffer. Those people need to know God’s love through these difficult times and as Christ’s disciples, it is our task to reflect that light of love into the world.