Thought for the Month (December 2014)

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and goodwill toward men" (Luke 2 v13 - 14).

Dear Friends,
These verses are very familiar to most of us, and are repeated all over the world at Christmas; even when peace and goodwill are in rather short supply.

It is truly amazing that humankind has managed to do so many astoundingly clever things, and yet peace eludes us. No sooner is peace achieved in one area than strife breaks out, or is rekindled, elsewhere. I just wonder, and I may be wrong, but pondering on this verse, might it be partly because we gloss over the goodwill, thinking of it just as a temporary and rather fleeting feeling, and just hope for peace in some kind of vacuum? Achieving peace cannot be like solving a mathematical problem, or we would have got there long ago. Or maybe it is as simple, but our minds are just not working properly!

Recently I have been reading some interesting material about how our brains work. It was rather hard going in places, but worth the effort. A child neglected, even in early infancy, will suffer as regards overall development, not only physically. Love and care stimulates mental activity and it is probably true to say, even if it is a gross oversimplification, that an injection of goodwill is just as essential for optimum performance in adults. For just a very mundane example, don't we drive well when in a kindly mood, and much worse when we are grumpy? Someone once told me "Pretend everyone on the road is your aunty or your brother!" That's goodwill!

Goodwill is a very powerful force, but we have to work on it, and pray for lots more! In the coming year, particularly with an election coming up, many out there will try and persuade us that this or that person, group or culture is a threat to us. I believe we should be very careful in this situation. Jesus tells us our neighbour is whoever fate throws in our path. There is no "in" or "out" group with Jesus. People who might try to influence us otherwise may have an agenda which does not bear too much investigation from a Christian point of view. I believe we should hunt for the goodwill in anyone's point of view, as well as the logic, because there is an unseen connection which works in ways we don't fully understand.

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas, and as we ponder on the traditional Christmas scene of the tiny Baby lying in a manger, may we be filled with gratitude, amazement and goodwill.

Mary Nolze (Elder and Secretary, Rusthall URC)

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church