As the political calendar, in Scotland and across the United Kingdom, runs down towards Christmas, and the various parliaments and assemblies prepare for winter recess, it is hard to remember a more turbulent backdrop.
Aside from the high drama surrounding recent political events, the latest incarnation of Covid, the Omicron variant, has once against cast a dark shadow over our nation. As ever, our leaders try their best to navigate these troubled waters, but time and again we see that Covid refuses to follow the script that our politicians and scientists had written for it.
For people across the country, these are deeply troubling times, as we face a second Christmas shrouded in uncertainty, with restrictions tightened, and the dismal prospect of rocketing Covid rates though the cold winter months. For the second year in a row, it is the Christmas season itself that has become the focus of the worst of the pandemic.
Yet Christmas, perhaps more than any other time of year, is precisely when our minds are drawn to the incarnation, when God himself entered our troubled world to bring reconciliation and healing. Our prayer must be that people everywhere, and especially our political leaders, would take time to think of Jesus, and to realise their desperate need of Him and his message. To move beyond the sentimentality of Christmas, and to embrace the Son of God himself – the ‘reason for the season’.
As the author of Psalm 56 said of God: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3, ESV) – and is it is trust in God though faith in the reconciling work of Jesus Christ that remains our one and only hope in these turbulent times. Ultimately, the Bible makes clear that things will not stay this way forever. It points us to the day when Jesus will return to earth for a second and final time, to destroy evil and to gather his followers to himself.
The promise at that time, to those who believe, is that: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, KJV) Even as the deeply depressing prospect of a second Christmas racked by Covid looms, and many of us are perhaps almost overcome by anxiety and despondency, it is comforting to know that in Jesus we have this absolute hope upon which to rest our heads.