Dear Family of St John’s

I was chatting with a lady a few weeks ago about an event she’d attended. It was a fun event, meant to be a time of celebration and joy. But, she chose to leave early.

When I asked her why, she replied that the people she was seated with had nothing good to say. They grumbled and moaned about everything. And so, she felt she couldn’t stay. I found this very sad. A function that was supposed to be fun, and joyful, was spoiled because of grumbling.

How easily do words that are negative and critical come out of our mouths? Or, even if we don’t verbalise them, they float around in our heads and take up residence in our hearts.

If we had to do an analysis of how many negative words were uttered each day in comparison to positive words, I’m confident the negative would outweigh the positive. In fact, in a different conversation with someone recently, this very topic came up.

He mentioned the 80 – 20 principle. Generally this is referenced in business and economics. It basically says that 80% of your result comes from 20% of the input. And so, it prioritises the 20% that will produce the highest rewards. The principle is used to identify your best assets and use them efficiently to create maximum value.

However, our conversation focused on the fact that in general we thought that 80% of people were actually really great, had the interests of others at heart, and wanted to work for good. Only 20% were ‘bad eggs’. But, the ‘bad eggs’ have the loudest voice and get the most media coverage, or air time.

This can lead us to believe that the ‘bad eggs’ are in the majority. We can become so focused on the negative, because that’s what is published or spoken about most.

But, imagine what would happen if we flipped that around? What would happen if we started talking about the good things that are happening? If we spoke about the wonderful qualities in our children, instead of what they’ve done wrong. If we acknowledged and thanked our spouse for what they do and who are they are, instead of criticising them for the little things. If we praised our employees and our bosses. And, if we did this publicly, not just in private to them.

What would happen if we took seriously the words of Isaiah 52: 7, and became one of ‘those’ who proclaim this message?

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

We have such wonderful news to share. We have the ability to impact people and help change their lives with this good news of peace and salvation. Why don’t we talk about this more often? Shouldn’t these be the words that leave our mouths and fill our hearts and minds?

Yes, I know that there are terrible things that happen. In just the last week I am aware of four people who are in their 40’s and 50’s who are either in a critical condition or who have died. I know that false cheeriness and a ‘look on the bright side of life’ attitude in these situations is not helpful, or appropriate.

But, I also know that the message of God’s presence and His love, of the hope that He offers through salvation because of Jesus, is the right message to share in every situation. It is especially important to share it when the world feels a little dark and heavy. This message brings light into those dark places.

In this season of Advent, we look at how Jesus came into the world as the Light to dispel darkness. As we await His second coming, we have work to do. That work is being His light in a dark world, continuing to dispel darkness with His message.

May we bring Christ’s Light into all our conversations. May we share the hope, joy, love and peace which is from the Lord. And, as you do this, look for the changes in those around you, you will be encouraged and amazed.

With love 
Your friend and rector