What does the recent / expected Snowfall and Donald Trump have in common? And no, that’s not the beginning of a very bad joke, though if it were the punchline probably ought to contain the words ‘slippery and slope’.
Perhaps they have in common that we love to hate them?
That both are the target of righteous anger?
That we seem powerless to be able to do anything about either of them. Though I suspect by the end of this I’ll be disagreeing with myself about the last. For perhaps there is something that we can do, yes, even about the snow!
Perhaps less obvious is that both Snow and Trump reveal a hidden truth. A good hard snowfall reminds us how vulnerable we are and how susceptible we are to a little inclement weather. (If only Trump were so short lived.) Once again DT has enraged nations, this time with his declarations over Jerusalem. Perhaps though he has done us a favour – just as the snow gives us a little reminder, for both have shattered our illusions.
I first met Sami Awad as I drove him back to his hotel at the beginning of a tour of the UK speaking about his home town of Bethlehem, non-violence and the work of the Holy Land Trust of which he was director. That was in 2013. Sami Awad, now executive director of the Holy Land Trust is back in the UK this December and has just finished a tour of the UK with the Amos trust who work for justice and hope in the Holy Lands. Sami wrote this last week that Trump [has] erased the illusion that there was an actual peace process. And that peace and justice … will not be realised … by one side forcing its will on others. That, It is only through a commitment to recognizing and honouring the full equal rights of all peoples in the land and building a new joint vision for the future that is founded in the principle of non-violence, justice, equality, and healing, will we be able to move forward in real peace.
That’s an awful lot to digest on a Sunday morning in Advent. Advent is not only about chocolate calendars and the run-up to Christmas. It is also about a world-view that says that “hope appears where it’s least expected and when it’s least anticipated. 2,000 years ago it was a Jewish Palestinian baby born in the occupied village of Bethlehem. Is it perhaps this advent a recognition of the “reality” President Trump talks of which is the failure of a quarter century of the peace process. It’s also the reality of the on-going discrimination and dispossession of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.” (Amos trust) If those are some of the realities we are faced with, what then can we do? This is perhaps where we have a chance to do something positive – but it will take a change of heart. Our Gospel reading today begins the account of Mark with the dramatic prophesy of Isaiah – interpreted in the light of what Jesus achieved. A change of heart for a community which recognised a different way of being, not one which focussed on the past as if nothing would ever change, and acting out of the same fears that it had always acted. A community which focussed on the future they wanted to see and acted in ways to bring about that future. This transformation is key. It is simply the transformation of our way of looking at a situation. Rather than to base our reaction always on what has gone before, it is to look into the future and base what we say and do on what we want to achieve in the end. If we want a future of peaceful relations, then our actions must reflect that. If our lives are disrupted by the weather, then we have the opportunity to reflect on what we believe we are in control of. I defy the snow; not by going out in spite of the warnings, but by changing my perspective. I defy DT; not by shouting righteous angry slogans at my television, but by sharing the story of Palestinians and Israeli’s of Christians and Muslims and all those who stand together and choose not to be defined by the violence or words of others, but who are defined by the common humanity which binds them into community. Build a little hope this advent…