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What will the New Year bring? Who can tell? But it looks as if at least one of the qualities that we will need is endurance. We have already endured strikes for several weeks and there is no end of those in sight. We are all enduring the consequences of the war in Ukraine, and the rise in the prices of fuel and of everything else, and there is no end in sight to all that. We have already endured ten days of very cold weather, and America is enduring even worse, and who knows what the rest of the winter will bring. So, endurance!

We are not used to the idea of endurance. We are accustomed to the idea that, whatever the problem is, somebody should do something about it: either the Government, or the scientists, or the leaders of something or other. But as a mentor of mine used to say, “Not everything is a problem to be solved; some things are just burdens to be borne.” Life is not all a bed of roses. Not everything in this world turns out alright. In the end we have to learn to endure, and in the end we have to recognise that the human race cannot save itself, but that we all need saving.

That is what the message of Christmas is all about: God sending us a Saviour. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.” This is a source of hope, a light in the darkness. It is not an instant solution to all the problems that we face, either personal problems or national problems. Jesus himself experienced problems from the beginning. He and his family became for a time refugees in Egypt in order to escape the wrath of Herod. Jesus grew up in a country subjected to a foreign power, Rome, and its puppet ruler, another Herod. He and his family and his people had to endure much. Jesus himself endured opposition and hostility from the religious leaders of his day, and eventually Jesus endured the agony and the shame of death on the cross. But through his resurrection and the promise of his Holy Spirit we find hope and courage, whatever we may have to endure.

Even the Psalms encourage us that, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” (Psalm 30.5.) “Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you.” (Psalm 55.22.) Jesus recognises that life is not always easy, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11.28-29.) And he gives us the assurance that, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24.13.)

Jesus’ presence with us now by his Holy Spirit is what makes our burdens tolerable. “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.” (John 14.18.) “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20.)

So, we endure whatever life and the world inflict upon us, either until we go to be with Jesus, or until Jesus comes again, as we have been reflecting upon in Advent. Then after this life and this world are over, we have the hope of everlasting life in the world to come. Then there will be nothing to endure any more, only a life of love and joy and peace, with God, and with all those who have loved and served him here. Glory to God.


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