Inspector General's Xmas Message 2020

 

Dear Brethren

May I welcome you to this Special Christmas 2020 Edition of the District Diary, and herewith please find a message of hope, my first Christmas message to you, entitled:


Watch, Wait, Wish and Wonder 


It was a long cold dreary winter night, some 2024 years ago, in c. 4 BCE *, when some weary Shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping a watch over their flock, they anxiously wait for the dawn of a new day and wish that the sunrise might bring them light and hope! And above all, they wondered if their release from the 'Taxing' Roman oppressors will be soon impending!

Oh no! They keep on watching and waiting and wishing and wondering.

It was, however, a clear bright starry night, when some wise men from the east were also watching, for in the skies there was a star shining brightly and they were waiting for it to guide them on their way to Jerusalem, they wished if it will soon settle on the place wherein the King of the Jews was born and wondering what gifts for Him they should appropriately present!

Oh yes! They too kept watching and waiting and wishing and wondering.

In the midst of hopelessness, anguish, and despair, of the former, "Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and the angel said unto them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord ... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men", Luke 2: 8 - 14. And so goes the story of the first Yuletide!

And in the light of vision and anticipation, of the latter, "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king *, and behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him ... And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was, and when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house they fell down and worshipped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh", Matt. 2: 1 - 12.  For so the Saviour, Saviour of the world is come ** (my chosen Hymn, vide infra)

So be they weary and helpless poor Shepherds or may they be wise and sage rich Magi, the quest for salvation and the thrust of hope is the same. Likewise, though more than two millennia have passed, the true Christmas message remains all the same. Dear friends, my faith is built on nothing else but in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, in whom we have hope for redemption and life eternal if we put our trust in Him, and as Christians, regardless of whatever extraneous factors around us, we "rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice", Phil 4: 4.

But sadly, we come to find ourselves approaching this year's festivity like we never experienced before, for it has indeed been a long and dreary year, the like of which is not etched in any living memory. The 31st of December 2019 ushered in 2020 with the menace of Coronavirus, which started in Wuhan in China and therefrom a pandemic spread all over the world, affecting more than 75 M People, in excess of 750 K cases per day, and has already claimed the lives of over 1.75 M. Moreover, this year's global COVID-19 disaster was further compounded by worldwide storms and widespread local floods, added to the fires in South Australia and California, and even the Volcano on Mount Vesuvius, dormant since March 1944, did once again erupt. And so it proved to be a long and dreary year; indeed an annus horribilis. Thus we also watch and wait and wish and wonder if there is a brighter finish of 2020 or even if and when this pandemic will end!

As we anxiously watch out for what might happen next, while we wait for an effective vaccine to be universally available, we wish that it will be safe and successful, and the protection it gives will be durable and we wonder how soon life will return to 'normal'. I am confident that the good Lord will save us further hardship! For I have no doubt that if Human hearts are set to seek Him and follow His commandments, He will graciously lift this misery.

As Christians, we know that "the end of all things is at hand; be ye, therefore, sober-minded, and watch unto prayer", 1 Pet 4: 7for we have “turned to God from idols And because we have "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come", 1 Thess. 1: 9 & 10"even we groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body", Rom 8: 23wishing that it will happen in our lifetime "for we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith", Gal. 5: 5, "for our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself", Phil. 3: 20 & 21Therefore, we ought not to keep wondering, for we know that our God is indeed "the God that doest wonders", Ps. 77: 14, We will then Behold that mystery as "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead (in Christ) shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed, for this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality ... when Death is swallowed up in victory: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? ... Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain", 1 Cor. 15: 51 - 58.

In conclusion, in this present time of trouble, we faint not and here I quote the words of Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626), the celebrated Elizabethan Philosopher and Theologian: 'Friendship doubles joy, and cuts grief in half', and in the words of another Christian Order: 'let us bear with one another; let us speak no evil of one another; let us always do good to one another; let us pray with and for one another; let us unite as children of one parent, brethren of one tie; and, in the name of God, let brotherly love prevail', and so “let us then observe this New Commandment: to love one another, John 13:34

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope that 2021, if the Lord tarries and we live, will indeed prove to be annus mirabilis.

Yours in the soon-coming Saviour

Joseph

 

* King Herod the Great reigned Circa 37 - 4 BCE, hence the Lord Jesus must have been born on or before 4 BCE.

** Words: William young Fullerton (1857 - 1932)

Music: Traditional Irish melody, Londonderry Air, aka Danny Boy, arranged by Roland Fudge

 

1. I cannot tell why He, whom angels’ worship
Should set His love upon the sons of men
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wand’rer’s
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know that He was born of Mary,
When Bethl'hem's manger was His only home,
And that He lived in Nazareth and laboured,
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.

2. I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace, He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the Cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
 But this I know, He heals the broken-hearted,
 And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fears,
And lifts the burden from the heavy-laden,
For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.

3. I cannot tell how He will win the Nations,

How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,

And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendour
When He the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.

4. I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,

When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation,
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,

And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!

 



 

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