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Woodstock Baptist Church

Secretary: Nick Archer
Services: 10.30am

The Embrace of God.

“The Cuddle falls foul of political correctness†so the headline ran. The article stated researchers had “discovered†that everyone needs at least one hug a day to cope with the stress of modern life, but hugging could be deemed “inappropriateâ€.

Sadly the researchers reported that a third of people receive no daily cuddle and three quarters wish they were hugged more than they are. Not surprisingly the young receive the most cuddles with this declining from age 11 to 18 when the trend reverses ~ Adults get least of all, the elderly the bottom of the heap.

How much better would our society be if we resolved to discover and offer a simple act of kindness ( a smile, a helping hand ,a hug) to folk who are struggling with life.

“Cuddle†doesn’t appear in my Bible however “Hug†does makes an appearance in Job 24 in the context of the desperate embrace of the vulnerable poor.

Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labour of foraging food; the wasteland provides food for their children. They gather fodder in the fields and glean in the vineyards of the wicked. Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked; they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold. They are drenched by mountain rains and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.

There is an eloquent sorrow in these words, where the only consolation afforded is to hug a rock – perhaps a metaphor describing the lonely and unloved of our communities, seeking solace from a world hard and indifferent to their plight?

Our current prime minister may once have encouraged us to “hug a hoody†but for those on the margins of our world clinging on for dear life as debts rise, despair deepens and devastation descends upon them need far more to cling to.

The good news of the Christian faith is that it won’t be this way forever, there is hope and renewal of all things as the following liturgy we use from time to time expresses:-

Among the poor,
among the proud,
among the persecuted,
among the privileged,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

In the private house,
in the public place,
in the wedding feast,
in the judgement hall,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

With a gentle touch,
with an angry word,
with a clear conscience,
with burning love,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

That the kingdom might come,
that the world might believe,
that the powerful might stumble,
that the hidden might be seen,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

Within us, without us,
behind us, before us,
in this place, in every place,
for this time, for all time,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

The good news is that the renewal of all things begins here and now. The coming of Christ at Christmas, the coming of the Spirit of Christ at Pentecost, embodies renewal. In word and action God works through his people in a divine conspiracy to subvert the ways things are to his way, lovingly embracing life inorder to transform it bit by bit.

We can use the time given us in this New Year to do our bit. Let us resolve to find time to discover who is in need of a hug, and then to offer simple human kindness to another; wholeheartedly loving God by loving our neighbour as ourselves – extending as it were the embrace of God.