Not going out

"I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness." Ecclesiastes 2.13

We may never have been so cut off from one another but, at the same time, a strange revelation is occurring. It happens every time we use social media, or watch presenters on TV use it to communicate with guests who cannot come into the studio. We catch glimpses of each other's homes, occasionally other family members, either deliberately or because they happen to have strayed across the camera's line of sight. Celebrities whom we have known for whatever has made them famous, whether because of their acting skills or because they present the news, are revealing their hidden skills and interests - what makes them human, just like the rest of us.

Presumably this will come to the fore during this evening's 'Big Night In' extravaganza on the BBC, bringing together Children in Need with Comic Relief for a unique effort to raise the nation's morale and some extra money for charities. The charity sector is one whose incomes will have been stretched through the double bind of falling revenues and increasing demand for its services, whether that is youth work or dementia care, drug rehabilitation or women's refuges.

In contrasting wisdom and light with darkness and folly, the teacher in Ecclesiastes is reminding us that so much of life is a choice: do we opt for despair or hope, love or hate, charity or selfishness? Most of us aren't going out tonight, so let's stay in and join the party: identifying with those who want to do the right thing in challenging circumstances, who would prefer to light a candle than curse the darkness.

At the end of the day, this is what the gospel of Jesus invites us to do: to exchange the despair of a meaningless existence for a future worth looking forward to, to abandon our desperate attempts at self-justification for the free gift of grace, the sacrifice selfish interests for a greater purpose, to penetrate the ultimate mystery: that true life is only gained when we are prepared to relinquish our grip on mere existence.

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