Hope Is Born - Advent 2020

December 9 – Annus Horribilus?

Written by Andrew Bryden

The Queen of the United Kingdom (and fifteen other Commonwealth realms, should you be interested), may call 2020 an “annus horribilis.” It certainly hasn’t been the best by any stretch of the imagination. And I’m going to assume you know the reasons why.

I am shocked at the level of damage this virus has caused people physically, emotionally, politically. I am dismayed by the lack of common sense we sometimes show. I am concerned about the increasing number of disasters we are seeing from wildfires to hurricanes, regardless of the cause. I am bemused by the political environment both here and around the world. These are strange times.

Fortunately my shock and bemusement doesn’t live with me long. I move on pretty quickly. Why? Because for a long time (whether I have known it or not) I have followed a principle that Pastor Brian highlighted a few sermons ago – “Jesus is Lord and everything else is BS.” I believe the quote is from Stanley Hauerwas, an American theologian.

I wasn’t aware of that quote until just a few weeks ago, but it really makes a lot of sense to me. It is why I don’t tend to dwell on things any more (although I used to when I was younger).

Throughout 2020 I have consciously or unconsciously had this thought in the back of my mind. It helped me focus on staying positive. And there have been many positives for me, and I hope my family (but you can ask them directly for their perspective). I have spent more time with my wife and children; I have commuted less than normal – the gift of time is precious; we have taught our three boys how to cook (with mixed results); I have invested more time helping them with their schoolwork; I have kicked more soccer balls in 2020 than I have for many years; I have practiced more yoga than I have in the past (not much, but some); I have watched less of the news, which has been somewhat liberating; and so on.

So maybe it has been an “annus horribilis,” especially for those who have lost loved ones, or who have endured loneliness this year. But I encourage everyone to stay positive. See the New Year as a time to focus on the positive things, realizing that Jesus is the person that matters most and nothing else is really that important. Live by His guidance, do good to others, and stay connected. That’s what is important. And there is no more important time than this Christmas season to remember that.

Blessings and Merry Christmas to you all.


If you’ve missed any of our previous daily readings, you can find them all archived here. We hope these readings are helping you encounter God this season!

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