Happy New Year! I have to say that I am glad to see 2016 go away and trust that 2017 will be a fresh new beginning for our country and the world. I don’t know about you but it feels like this past year has been wracked with violence, anxiousness, death, divisiveness and anger. The news is full of stories of riots, and political rhetoric that is filled with hostility and fear. There is also the much concern for the thousands of displaced refugees who are seeking safety from tyrannical governments and terrorist groups. I am surprised at how anxious and fearful these stories of hardship and hopelessness seem to affect our attitudes in our everyday lives.
So how do we take our feelings of gratitude and hope of the Christmas season and the love of God’s Son, into the New Year? I think it will take a united effort that will require work from all of us. Have you seen the adventure TV show Running with Bear Grylls? He is an adventurer who takes famous people into the wilderness and pushes them to their limits of endurance and fear. One of his guests, the former Spice Girl, Mel B who is now better known as one of the judges on America’s Got Talent. At the end of the first day, Grylls and his guest, always have a conversation about how they overcame some of their real-life struggles. I like this part as it gives us a glimpse into the “stars” real life experiences rather than the persona, which we see played out in their day jobs. In this particular episode, Mel B explained to Grylls how the Spice Girls rock group began as five girls who came together with the same ambitions and goals to be successful singers. She said that individually they were not successful but together they became a powerful force. And powerful they were. They were one of the top selling girl-bands ever! Hold onto that thought for a minute.
Later in the show, when Grylls and Mel B were going to repel down the side of a cliff, they were unable to find a rock or a tree to anchor their dissent. So Grylls decided that they would loop the rope around a large gathering of ferns and use it to be their anchor. Mel B thought he was crazy and said that with her two hands, she could easily break a fern frond in half. She said that the ferns were not going to keep them from crashing to the bottom of the cliff. Grylls responded by using Mel B’s own words to remind her of how the Spice Girls rose to stardom not as individuals, but as a team. Together they became the powerful Spice Girls. As he continued to prove his point, he grabbed a bunch of fern stems and handed them to Mel B and asked her to break them. When she tried, she was unable do so. Just as the Spice Girls needed each other to be strong, he said it is the same with the ferns. A single fern stem could easily be broken but a bunch of ferns together were mighty and able to hold the rope and keep them from crashing to the cliff floor.
So in the New Year, what is our anchor? Just like the easily broken fern stem, alone we are not as strong as a united group of people willing to stand strong and work to change our attitudes of hostility and fear. It will take all of us to join together and set aside our self-interests in what we want and really listen to others and how their beliefs may be different from ours yet seek to find common ground. Are we anchored by the love of the baby in the manger that we celebrate during the Christmas season? In love, can we really see people and listen to them and try to imagine walking in their shoes to gain a better understanding of who they are? Recently I heard some words that I will take into the New Year; “I am strong, I am mighty, I am worthy! I may not be able to change the world but I can do something.” Together we stand united and together we can change the world.