by Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

I think most people would agree that 2015 was not an easy year. The political situation in the country has been tense with people becoming increasingly disaffected and disillusioned. As South Africans, this year we have been faced with corruption, xenophobia, crime, educational crises, an impending economic recession, climate issues and electricity and water shortages. The international crisis with ISIS, experienced especially in the terror attacks in Nigeria, Paris, Mali, Lebanon and elsewhere have become critical. Refugees need safe places but are frequently not well received. We are a society in serious crisis. Many of us feel deeply disheartened and some feel very afraid about what the future might hold.

In this season of Christmastide we see our hope. In his imaginative meditation on the Incarnation, Ignatius invites us to see God the Trinity, looking down on the world all through time and seeing it in all its beauty and in all its mess. Seeing all of the brokenness of our own time too, God chooses to enter into our experience: to be born in total vulnerability into our humanity in all its chaos. And God’s doing that changes everything. It gives us the assurance that, as Julian of Norwich puts it: In the end all will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well” or as the young man in the popular movie “Marigold Hotel” says: Everything will be ok in the end, and if it is not ok it is not yet the end.”

This does not mean we can give up the struggle to create a different and better society. We are called more than ever to be witnesses of hope. We are invited to work in partnership with God and to work for the values of the reign of God. Our awareness of the massiveness of the task should not lead us to give up in despair but encourage us to do what we can, where we are, with what we have.

Perhaps, as we await 2016, it is not so much about New Year’s Resolutions but identifying which value of the Kingdom I am called to do something to bring about. Compassion? Hope? Creativity? Justice? Peace? Reconciliation? Healing? Is there something I sense God inviting me to be part of. It may be to help one particular person who really needs me; or it may be to challenge a system at work; or to help educate a child. We cannot do everything. But we can do something. And we do it knowing that in the end God redeems the world through the birth of his son Jesus. In the words of Corrie ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” It is this known God, who loves us and who chose to enter into our human experience. And so we can have hope for our future even in the mess.