I wonder which Christmas carols you have sung most this Christmas. I love Christmas carols, but wonder if we really take notice of the words and the theology they are trying to express.
The line from a famous Christmas carol that has really hit me this year is a line from verse one of ‘O, Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘the hopes and fears of all the years are met in you tonight’. What an amazing piece of theology and something that it would be good to take with us into 2013.
I wonder what your hopes and fears were for 2012 – did they materialize or are you still waiting for those hopes to come true? What about your fears? Was the anticipation worse than what actually happened? As we go into 2013 what are your hopes and fears for the New Year?
I asked some of the Sophia Network and Trustees what their hopes and fears are as they go into 2013 and this is what they said:
Aline Simpson who is a senior Lecturer at Oasis College said ‘ My hopes for 2013 are that I'll have further opportunity to encourage positive working relationships between men and women - both through my work on a senior management team at Oasis, but also as I mentor and train others. I particularly hope to encourage females to fulfill their God-given potential with no boundaries. I hope that many will respond to the challenge of creating positive relationships centred on equal values’.
That is an incredible hope and in many ways Aline is aiming very high, but if we don’t do that then we may be accepting second best for our relationships between men and women in leadership.
Her fears were also connected with this; she said ‘My fears are that the constraints of institutions could get in the way of the above! I think that we are at a tipping point with responses to equality and organisations with influence need to take hold of the responsibility they have to address the challenges that are 'on the ground'. But I'm not sure that they are all ready to move and respond accordingly’.
Claire Rush who is the Esther Generation Project Coordinator for The Girls' Brigade England & Wales described her hopes as ‘I want to finally master the art of work/life balance with the focus of carving out dedicated time with God and my new husband. It is difficult to manage your passions sometimes, which can be all consuming. I hope to have wisdom and discernment as I step into a new leadership role. I have just been elected GB Europe Chairperson and International Vice-President of GB. This presents a challenge for me to grow in my gifting and ‘step out of the boat.’ My last hope is that I will finally get fit and no longer have a craving for fast food (ok... that is a long shot!).
The Sophia Network Trustees and Steering Group met recently in Oxford to talk through our strategy for the movement in 2013. Our meetings are always very exciting as we really do believe that we are making a difference and hopefully changing the world’s view of the relationships between men and women, boys and girls.
So our hopes for 2013 are that Sophia Network will continue to grow as a community of men and women who want to see everyone regardless of gender released to serve God with their amazing gifts. We would also like to see the media in the UK take more responsibility in the messages, which it transmits to young people and particularly stop unnecessary sexualisation and exploitation of girls and women.
One of our fears is that we may not be able to continue this work, as funding is very sparse, most of what we do as a group is done in a voluntary capacity and there is so much more we would like to do if we could reimburse people their expenses. So please stand with us in this and pray with us that God will
release all the resources we need to continue the amazing work that has already been achieved in changing attitudes to men and women in the workplace and in leadership roles.
So what are your hopes and fears for 2013? Why not comment on this article and let’s share our hopes and fears together as a community of God’s people with the same passion.
We know that Jesus Christ comforts our deepest fears and provides for us our greatest hope; this is an amazingly powerful message! As I reflect on the significance of the phrase in the carol, I am reminded of 1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” So let’s go into 2013 knowing that our hopes and fears of 2013 are met in him, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In 2013 may you know the comfort and hope Jesus Christ provides for you in all aspects of your life and ministry. Happy New Year!
Co-founder of Sophia Network