Community News

The birth of Hope

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Life on the land is tough! Scratching a living from the soil is hard work. Then the rains fail and the paddocks turn to dust or rain comes and floods wipe out the crop. Even when the farmer has a bumper season and growing conditions are perfect, magnificent crops of valuable grain can be stripped bare by locusts and fruit trees decimated by hailstorms. Even if the farmer’s or orchardist’s crop survives these catastrophic events and the money is almost in the bank, a wildcard can rear its ugly head in the shape of a chronic lack of workers to harvest crops in the field or fruit on the tree, vine or bush.

One such farmer arranged a meeting with his bank manager. He was ushered into the plush office whereupon the usual pleasantries were soon observed and dispatched. The bank manager knew his client was in debt so was a little surprised when the farmer responded to his enquiry as to how things were going by saying he had bad news and good news.

“So how bad is the bad news” asked the banker. “Well,” said the farmer, “because of the drought, I can’t meet my mortgage payments. And that re-cropping loan you’ve advanced each year for the past 10 years – I can’t pay that off, either, let alone the payments on the tractors and equipment. I still owe you a couple of hundred thousand dollars, don’t I?” The bank manager nodded soberly. “So I’ve come to a decision,” continued the farmer. “I’m going to have to give up the farm. I’ll turn everything over to the bank to salvage whatever it can from the assets – and I’ll just walk!”

Silence prevailed for a minute while the bank manager digested the implications. This was bad news for the bank which stood to lose thousands of dollars in loan default costs. Then, with a deep sigh, the banker asked: “And what’s the good news?” With a broad grin on his face the farmer replied: “The good news is that I’m going to keep on banking with you” he said.

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have said that they’ll be glad to see the back of 2020 – that they expect 2021 to be a much better year. And that’s entirely understandable given the Covid-generated chaos that has turned our lives upside down this year!

We can, and do hope for better in the new year that’s dawning. But as always, it’s up to us. We need to cheerfully do what is right and add our weight to supporting those decisions that will lead us out of the pandemic that has decimated families, nations and economies the world over. In other words, we need to resolve to do whatever will alleviate the intense suffering of people.
This is exactly what God did in sending Jesus into the thick of the struggling morass of humanity that was the world of Jesus’ day. People were desperate to hear good news – to know there was hope for the future.

They were living under the cruel yoke of Roman domination; they needed to feel a sense of peace in their hearts even though physical peace was elusive; their spirits yearned for a time when joy and love would rule the day and cast its beams of light along life’s pathway.

Jesus was God’s answer for his own generation – and for every generation since. Yes, for 2021 and beyond!