26 October 2012
Good news has arrived
Perhaps it began with the opening ceremony. Maybe it was when Heather Stanning and Helen Glover rowed to that first gold medal. Whatever the reason, there was a change in atmosphere over the UK. Suddenly there was an appetite for good news and people feasted upon stories of endeavour, success and effort. People laughed and cried with victory and defeat. There appeared to be confidence and laughter replacing cynicism and bad news. Even newspapers reflected a good news feel in the nations.
How long will it last?
Sometimes the feel good factor doesn’t last. The effect of good news can be like smoke; you know it has been here but you cannot hold it. It passes by and moves on.
There is good news that lasts forever. It is news about God and His relationship with people. It involves forgiveness, hope, salvation and justice. It concerns the redefining of identity and the rising of hope. This good news is not temporary and has come in flesh and blood. This good news is Jesus Christ the Lord. This good news creates a new society, a radical people who live for God’s glory and the advancing of His kingdom of justice, grace and love.
This new society unites the rich and poor, weak and strong, male and female, and people of every tongue, tribe and nation into one family. George Beukema writes in Stories from below the poverty line: “I have come to see with increasing clarity how critical it is for the Church to bridge the divide between rich and poor, urban and non-urban.... Such a coming together is not only in the interests of the poor, who need the resources of the affluent, but also of the affluent, who need the resources of the poor. Quite simply, we need each other.” This is the power of the good news in a new people marked by unity in diversity. A new day has dawned that changes everything forever.
Can you imagine the scene described in Luke 4? Jesus enters the synagogue in Nazareth, where everyone knows him. A stillness fills the room as all eyes focus on the young carpenter. He stands to read and a scroll is handed to him. Jesus unrolls the scroll and starts to read with clarity and authority.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:17-20). Jesus rolls up the scroll and hands it back. I guess you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. What would Jesus say today? This scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. The Jesus manifesto, fulfilled in his character is a changed society. It is about freedom, recovery and release. It is the new paradigm of hope.
I love the way Shane Claiborne puts it in Irresistible Revolution: “Jesus did not set up a program but modelled a way of living that incarnated the reign of God, a community in which people are reconciled and our debts are forgiven just as we forgive our debtors.” A new community. Good news in the person of Jesus.
This advent we want to think about the good news that is Jesus Christ. We want to celebrate his birth and also think about what it means to be the radical community of Jesus today. What does it mean to the poor, weak and marginalised that good news has come?
This year in our Advent Prayer guide we invite you on a shared journey. We reflect upon the good news and we pray for transformation in our nations. We draw on themes suggested by the Bethany Christian Trust, a charity which works with some of the most marginalised in our society. Join congregations, small groups and individuals as together we reflect upon what it means to believe that good news has arrived.
Fred Drummond, director of prayer and supporters and Scotland, Evangelical Alliance.