To celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday, he and Archbishop Desmond Tutu met in Dharamsala in India where they spent five days “in deep dialogue and playful laughter as they shared their experience of how to find joy in the face of life’s challenges.” ‘The book of Joy’ published by ‘Penguin/Random House’ was the result.
These two Nobel peace laureates have been tested by great personal adversity.
The Dalai Lama has lived as a refugee in India since 1959, and, fearing for his life, is unable to return home to Tibet. A year after the attainment of majority rule, signalling the end of the apartheid era, Archbishop Tutu was appointed chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; he has heard accounts of the very worst human atrocities. Yet despite these experiences both men, now in their eighties, have found a way to live with an enduring joy and zest for life. So much so, that they are known for being among the most infectiously happy people on the planet.
How? How can two men, who have witnessed so much evil, remain so joyful?
Christmas is coming. For Christians it is a season of joy and hope when we remember the birth of Jesus, Emanuel, which means, ‘God with us’. We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come”, but how do we remain joyful and live with an enduring sense of hope when, each evening, our television screens bring us stories of war, refugees, famine and disaster?
Joy can be easy to find when we live in naivety; but how can we fully inhabit the joy and hope of Christmas when it looks as though our world is heading in the opposite direction?
The answer is a spiritual one – there is something that these two, great spiritual and moral leaders have found which enables them to rise above the daily challenges and reveal joy and hope on the other side of adversity. For Tutu, his answer is in Jesus, who, through his life, death and resurrection ushered in a new way of being, a new hope! Because of Jesus the world is different – God is with us, and we just need to be awakened to that reality.
How we live in the joy and hope of Christmas will be the topic of our Carols by Candlelight at Bessels Green Baptist Church this year. As well as a chance to sing some of your favourite carols, we will be exploring in more detail what it means to live with hope and joy in the world. Do join us at 6.30pm on the 18th of December for a good sing-song, followed by mulled wine and a delicious mince pie or two!
Minister and Team Leader
Bessels Green Baptist Church