(my Thought For the Day on BBC Radio Ulster - December 11, 2020...)


What a week in the news - December 2020. As I watch and listen I am pretty convinced that my grandchildren will have this on their A Level History syllabus. For us it was 19th century Irish history. For others 20th century American history BUT for our Grandchildren one month might be enough for the entire course.

A world pandemic with lockdowns, Christmas bubbles and miracle vaccines,  a race towards the cliff edge on a Brexit deal and an American President who won’t give way to the next American President. Goodness me but what the Christmas no 1 is seems of little consequence!

These are surreal and disconcerting times.

But for the preacher it is Advent. I cannot help think that Mary was caught up in surreal and disconcerting times too. And actually times that would be on Theological College syllabuses for millennia.

Yes, if we are reeling then so was Mary. After a visit from an angel, understandably so. She is pregnant but not married. She has to live with the implications of all that the neighbours and elders in the synagogue might think and say.

In disconcerting and surreal times it is good to have someone to breathe in and breathe out with.

Mary takes off and visits her cousin Elizabeth. Someone who sees her. Someone who will take her in and allow her to find space to come to terms with the big ask of God. Someone to listen to her. Someone who will be there for her without judgement. Someone who understands.

If ever there was a Christmas full of people who need an Elizabeth then it is this one. Thought For The Days are often dismissed as just nice messages about being nice. Well this particular year being nice could change someone’s world. Just a nice act like sending a text or message or phone call or card. 2020 has been disconcerting and surreal for us all. Everyone needs an Elizabeth and we all need to be an Elizabeth to someone. 


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