Last night was our Carol Service – this year it was relocated to Living Hope and combined with the first ever turning on of the Living Hope Christmas Tree. Normally I struggle to feel Christmasy in South Africa – the temperature is just too high and singing Carols in short sleeves feels wrong. Yet the combination of the wonderful Carols, great sermons and the turning on of the lights manage to make me feel have that Christmas tingle. It was not a warm fuzzy tingle but that tingle of knowing that with Jesus there is Hope.
The Christmas Tree was a fundraiser for Living Care, the ministry of Living Hope that deals with Health Care. Each bulb represented a patient helped in the Health Care Centre – the aim is over the next few years to sell more than 1400 lights. This year got off to a good start with more than 220 sold. This represents that number of patients who have died in the Centre – meaning more than 1150 have gone home to family! How amazing that what started out as a Hospice to care for the dying had to change its name as patients were getting better and able to manage their chronic diseases and live a life of dignity at home. HIV is a disease that brings darkness and despair but Living Hope has been able to bring the light and love of Christ to the suffering. That makes me feel really Christmasy.
John’s ‘nativity’ is a bit different from all the others – he doesn’t describe the birth he instead describes the Character of Jesus – He is light!
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Jesus came to bring light to the darkness, to expose that which is shameful, depressing, binding and fear causing – with light we receive hope. This is the way God designed us to live – in the light full of hope, not in the dark full of fear.
Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.