On behalf of the whole IofC team may we wish you all a blessed time this season.
For some of us, 2020 has been the most tumultuous year of our lives. It has given a glimpse of the faithful courage that some in our fellowship have shown or currently show in the face of war, natural disaster or recession. We pray that we are better able to empathise with, support and learn from your examples of drawing closer to the Divine and one another as a team, even in the direst circumstances.
We also pray that we will continue to play our part in preventing such circumstances from occurring in the first place. Our own recent brushes with mortality have confirmed to us that in this world of unpredictability and chaos there is always a temptation to retreat into the safety of the familiar. This can translate into keeping the other at bay and surrounding ourselves only with the people and things we can control – no matter how damaging this might be to our spiritual growth and calling.
As we take stock of 2020 we have seen the very worst and best of humanity. We have seen people make choices to retreat and contract into ways that divide, blame and create suspicion. And we have seen people expand into their full potential and become a part of God’s plan for the world, no matter how counter-cultural this may seem at first.
We write as two guys from different backgrounds and expressions of faith united by IofC’s vision for a remade world that is led by people who are led by God. It is this vision that is an antidote to the contraction in love and expansion in materialism of recent times.
In the Christian calendar this is a time of year where people remember the gift of Jesus to the world. This gift of life expanded the consciousness of people and invited all to follow Christ’s ‘way’ at a time when many wanted to take up arms, become tribal or remove themselves from society and wait for the kingdom come. Jesus proclaimed a vision and demonstrated a way of living that lifted the spirit, opened eyes to the ‘other’ and engaged with everyone – trusting that The Spirit would work in all hearts.
In a world of complexity and tumult, this simple example of living the message and ultimately trusting all outcomes to the Divine, shines through. This is the message that proves that our world can be remade by careful obedience to the inner voice and by our striving to reach and apply the standards of honesty, unselfishness, love and purity. It is a message that can only be experienced or shared when we expand into, rather than contract from, our world. It is a message for everyone, everywhere. It is a message that was offered to us as a blessing by friends and family members, beloved stalwarts of the work, who lost their lives in 2020.
We are aware, almost as the shell-shocked and war weary pioneers of IofC were, that the world will not return to normal. Let their blazing examples lead us and let 2021 be the year to work in a wisdom-seeking collegiality, that puts such resources as God has generously granted us, to the work of a different world.
Paul Gutteridge and Krish Raval
National Director and Acting National Director