Believe in what your heart is saying: Hope for the Future by Rev Jenny Adams
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This Christmas I’ve joined a trend – which is unusual, I’ve never been trendy in my life.
It is fairly niche, right enough, limited to female clergy with a specific Christmas jumper!
A retailer has produced a jumper (in women’s sizes, disappointing some men) that simply says “BELIEVE.” This has struck a chord with ministers and priests, generating social media interest as #teambelieve.
I saw the story and have treated myself to a jumper that will do many Christmases and, indeed, any time of year.
The invitation to believe has a particular meaning for me leading Christmas services, sharing a story I believe tells of God becoming human to live among us. Part of my calling as a Christian is to share the hope that brings.
Yet it’s also an invitation that includes lots of perspectives in the festive season.
The winter months include many festivals across different faith traditions, celebrating a range of important beliefs and stories.
Most traditional Scottish Christmas celebrations include strands from Yule and Winter Solstice, celebrating the sun’s rebirth after the longest night. Evergreens remind us of life, while fires and parties chase the darkness away. In darkness we believe in light returning.
Then there’s belief in the magic of Christmas, often personified in that mysterious bearded figure from the north pole. Many Christmas songs and movies revolve around this, overcoming cynicism to rediscover hope and joy.
The main song from the film Polar Express is “Believe” (written by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri). The lyrics invite us to “Believe in what your heart is saying. Hear the melody that’s playing. There’s no time to waste, there’s so much to celebrate.”
So, what do we hear in our hearts? What does an invitation to believe mean to each of us?
I hope our belief is open to wider possibilities. Otherwise we can get trapped, whether by expectations of family Christmases, childhood convictions about Santa, or concepts that we hold on to beyond question.
I hope belief gets beyond our heads into our hearts. We are beings of body, mind and spirit, so faith and hope will be felt and expressed in many ways.
And I hope believing changes how we live. Believe is a verb, a doing-word (as my primary teachers said). So actions should be affected, and not just at Christmas. We choose to trust in mysteries and rhythms of life. We choose to be shaped by stories and experiences. These choices shape our living every day.
For me, I believe God chose to come and live a human life, born as Jesus, son of Mary. I believe that shows that God is always with us, through everything we might face. I believe, with lots of questions and uncertainty, with help from people I love and trust. And believing these things helps me to keep living with hope for our wounded world.
What about you? What does an invitation to believe mean for you today?
Whatever you believe, I wish you peace, hope and love this Christmas.
Jenny Adams is Minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland. Thank you to Jenny for her columns throughout 2021; they have been uplifting and thoughtful. Jennyhas been a columnist for The Northern Scot and its sister papers since 2020.