Reader Writes, January 2018

How did you get on in Hong Kong (I asked an acquaintance who had been visiting her sons there); Oh, it wasn’t very comfortable; most of the spare room in their tiny flat is taken up by a huge hot-air panting server mining the internet for Bitcoin! So we’ve returned to 19thC booty capitalism where adventurers set off to colonise farther corners of the digital universe to pan for new gold, and apparently Bitcoin. Is this wise? Is it inevitable? Yes, to both probably; but there seem to be plenty of writers and thinkers daring to suggest that we might be in trouble; watch out for talk of “end times”!

But in this Epiphany season let’s take a 2000 year look back to the hostile world traversed by the 3 magi, backing a star in the darkness and a wild hope in their hearts. The near East and Asia Minor had been conquered by Roman legions and plundered by its consuls. Mercy was rare, plentiful were greed and violence. Then the world was about to change; no less blood but a hope had been born, a light to all people. By TS Eliot’s pen the magi returned pensive and much changed; the world needed this and it was coming. We returned to our places ……but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, with an alien people clutching their gods.

I want to use the word hope to give this change, this epiphany, a handle. The good news of the gospel is that God came amongst us; and he provided a rescue for us. Hope is a word freighted with the wonderful fact, the reality, of divine intervention. Hope is like a carrier wave that extends into eternity, and upon it is written the noise and anxiety of our days in this life; our fears and failures fade and eventually pass into silence, but hope and trust in God never cease, ever. No wonder we sometimes find ourselves a little at odds with the “old dispensation” and its clutching at Bitcoin and sundry other gods.

There is often friendly allegory in the land around us. The shortest day is past, the coldest days are to come; the old world is fading and dying, feeding worms who are feeding moles who are busy while the gardener is indoors with a cup of tea. Yet venture out and look under that hedge or in the depths of a flower bed; there! Yes, the snowdrop and the crocus are already pushing up, just a little bit at a time, and the darling sun is edging his way back from the golden nadir of frosty dawns. Right there in the old and decaying, in the compost of failures and mistakes, and because of the decaying debris of painful lessons, new enriched life is emerging. It’s another way of seeing hope; an eternal cycle that never fails.

Our friend St Paul always has something to say about hope; and how his mistakes were turned to fierce good. Here he blesses the saints in Rome “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope…”  And thankyou whoever said Do not go mental; and with that Goodnight!

Robert MacCurrach

Rob MacCurrach