Jenny Williams is Chief Executive of Habitat for Humanity Ireland. Read her reflection, the final in our series, below:
In 2023 the darkness of war, the enormity of climate related disaster, and the cost of living crisis is affecting communities around the globe.
‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.’ John 3:16
On Christmas Eve I think again about what that love means for our world. Love that challenges and empowers us to live in love with hope, justice and compassion; to be light in the darkness.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to share a bit about the impact of our House to Home programme at the Clonard Carol service. We are delighted that Habitat will benefit from the 'Christmas Crib' collection this year, and the whole service was a joyful celebration of the Christmas story. Since then in my own church we have had a live nativity complete with donkey and sheep, I had the joy to join our community choir for 'Carols by Candlelight', and I look forward to singing again on Christmas Day.
My favourite carol of right now is ‘Heaven has come to us’ by Sovereign Grace Music, I have the album on repeat in the car since the beginning of Advent. So many Christmas songs focus on Jesus birth, and stick with shepherds, angels and wisemen and I love all of those too. There is something powerful about how Sovereign Grace give us the opportunity to sing the whole gospel story in just a few verses
‘To the world hope has come, In the dark the Light of Life has dawned’
Some recent research reports ‘Carols are a form of celebration and tradition, which are central to our humanity. They allow people to unite in the spirit of love and joy, which can help them become more compassionate towards each other.’ At the heart of Habitat for Humanity’s vision to build a world where everyone has a decent place to live is that we seek to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to make it possible.
This year as we celebrated 30 years of Habitat here in Ireland; our celebration in Belfast Cathedral in May, marked our impact locally and globally most clearly – the joy in bringing together the people who enable our work – wonderful colleagues, faithful donors, committed partners and many volunteers whose heart to serve embodies our mission.
I look forward to 2024 and to all the ways we will work together to tackle injustice and poverty, to all the ways we will be light in our communities. In the darkness even a small light changes everything.
Meantime I wish you, and those you love, joy, peace and hope this Christmas and blessings for 2023.
God of Hope May our lives and actions reflect the light and truth that Jesus was born in a stable and died on a cross to give us hope. In a world where too many are hungry, where too many wait for a safe place to live, where people live in the shadow of war, where people are worried about how they can pay their bills - may hope and justice be born through us as we build your kingdom on earth. Amen.