Jenny Williams is Chief Executive of Habitat for Humanity Ireland. Read her reflection, the final in our series, below.
In this year like no other for our families, our communities and our world we long for signs of hope. An end to COVID-19, hope that the vaccine will save us from being apart from family and friends, will allow us to travel and for life to return to some kind of normal.
In this year like no other we should give thanks for the signs of hope we have seen; the community coming together to support the most vulnerable, a new understanding of what our priorities should be and an appreciation of the essential services which are often not given the value they deserve. I hope that life will not return to ‘normal’ but that all the ways we have slowed down, valued and looked out for each other would be a new normal.
Jesus is the greatest sign of hope. A small baby, born in a stable, to humble parents from an ordinary town. Mary and Joseph were called to serve; they were willing and God equipped them.
The prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus birth ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone… Isaiah 9:2
Jesus was not the sign of hope that the world 2000 years ago expected, but his birth, an unlikely sign of hope, continues to be a light in the darkness.
In a world of COVID, of poverty, injustice, inequality and conflict Jesus continues to be a light of hope, Emmanuel ‘God with us’. When we are willing to follow Jesus, God will equip us.
Habitat for Humanity demonstrates the love of Jesus by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope. We choose shelter because we know that families can build a better future when they have a safe place to live.
This year has reminded us all of the vital importance of a safe home and I hope that is one of the things we won’t easily take for granted again.
I am thankful for all the ways that hope grows through Habitat’s interventions, here at home and around the world.
Hope of a new beginning for people whose life choices mean they connect with Habitat through the justice system, hope of work for those who come to ReStore needing skills for employment, hope that the Habitat family can provide support on the journey of recovery from mental health challenges.
For the millions of families that Habitat reached this year, even during the pandemic, hope starts at home. I think often of the Habitat families that I have had the joy to meet, remembering their joy even when life as tough. I remember sitting on Sissy’s doorstep in Malawi (photo right), humbled by her thanks, challenged by her hard work and her resilience when every year the walls of her home would crumble in the rainy season.
Sissy never gave up hope that life would improve for her grandchildren and I am thankful to have the joy to be part of her story and think of her, and her family, this Christmas.
The group around our tables might be smaller this year but we are safe at home. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, the light and hope of the world let’s recommit to reflect that light and hope to a world in need.
May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:3
Heavenly Father in a world which needs hope, may our lives overflow with hope that comes from the Spirit. May we reach out to the world around us in ways which reflect the love of Jesus; loving and serving our neighbours. May we speak out for peace and justice and work for a world as God would have it, a world where all God’s children can grow up in a safe place to live. In Jesus name. Amen.