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Hope on the horizon

 As we approach the start of a new year, the world around us is rapidly changing.


  • With war in the Ukraine and Israel the international community is unsettled.

  • With upcoming elections in 2024 in both USA and probably in the UK too, there is more uncertainty.

  • With the culture wars continuing to rage across schools, universities, corporate business and beyond, our nations become more divided.

  • With the financial squeeze taking place due to inflation looking like it is not going to ease, at least in the early part of 2024, families continue to feel the pinch.

  • With antisemitism on the rise around the world it seems that dark days are ahead for us all.

  • With Christianity being marginalized in the UK, USA and other Western nations so that the Bible has been accused in Finnish courts of being hate speech, thought crimes or praying in your head have led to arrests in the UK and teachers have been sacked for refusing to call a boy a girl. Meanwhile the internal turmoil in the Church of England is being played out in the news.


It would be easy to stand on the brink of 2024 and think there is no good news, no way to turn the tide and no hope.


Yet this is only one side of the story. The other is this – God is moving. People are starting to turn to God. The despair and hopelessness the world has to offer is leading to people seeking genuine hope in times of clear darkness. They are turning to the church.


I could choose many examples of stories I have heard in the past few months of families and people turning to Christ and seeing their lives turned around, but perhaps none highlight the depth of what God is doing more than a thread on X (formerly twitter) that I saw.


Actor and activist Laurence Fox (who described himself as a vaguely lapsed Christian) wrote a long post of about finding hope in despair.

I quote from his post:

‘This silly Amazon shopping spree which has replaced the celebration birth of Jesus should remind us all of that. That out of the deepest despair, there is hope. That a child was born and destined to die for all of our sins. That every single human life matters. That all lives are sacred.


That God is being mentioned at Christmas time is not a surprise, though he is being mentioned more by many podcasters and philosophers of our time. What really show the work of the Holy Spirit is the first series of replies to his message.


Natalie wrote, I’ve just been to church on Christmas Eve for the first time since I was a child. Actually, for the first non wedding / christening / funeral service since I was a child.’

Stick wrote, Merry Christmas from a stranger. I’m also taking myself to church for the first time since school. funny old world.


Saffy said, ‘I took my children with me too. It was lovely.’


When Natalie was asked by a poster ‘Are you glad you went?’ she simply replied, ‘Yes.’


M wrote, Funnily enough I’ve felt this and I feel I need to go tomorrow. Not been for over 30 years.


Flora Bee added. God is speaking to your heart. I say this as someone who, until the madness of the Covid response, would have thought a comment such as that the ramblings of the unhinged. The evil of the Covid response made me open to its opposite.’


Beth explained, The whole Covid madness and realising how much evil is in the world, along with realising that I can stand up for unpopular beliefs and that I need to trust God with my life & future, meant that I returned to my faith & church after 20 years of trying to ignore God.


Chaebol said, ‘Me too! feels like some kind of spiritual awakening. Feel very positive and I really shouldn't be lol x.’


Janekareunareiki added, ‘I did this year too, I’m not religious, I just wanted to sing carols and have some peace have a lovely Christmas.’


Richard Svoboda said, ‘Funny me too and I wept. Good start I bet!


Cyanidecat,It's strange I've felt drawn to the church for the first time since I was a child.’


Ashleigh Hunter, Snap! I felt the "need" to go tonight for the first time ever!


And on and on the comments go – each person feeling a stirring, a need, to be in church at Christmas for the first time in decades (or even the first time ever). This looks like the start of a great awakening that many of us have been praying for for decades. This mirrors stories I am hearing from local churches who are welcoming atheists, agnostics, addicts and prodigals.


People are hungry for truth. People are looking for hope. God’s creation is being stirred to seek their creator from the youngest to the oldest.


The only question left for us is how we can partner with what God is clearly doing to win and disciple as many people as possible in 2024. Let’s make this year a fruitful year for the Gospel. Let’s give our all for the cause of God’s kingdom, no matter what the cost. Let’s make this our focus not the doom and gloom that is rising. Let’s be the people of hope – a hope which does not disappoint – so that others may know God too through our witness.


May 2024 be a joyful and fruitful year for you and your love ones.


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