One of the steepest learning curves that I think I have been on is the proliferation of TLAs and FLAs (Three/Four Letter Acronyms). Every situation has their own version – the church has CLT (Church/Circuit Leadership Team); DPC (District Policy Committee); WWDJ (What would Jesus do?) and so on. The Government has another set and the NHS yet more... the problems truly begin to arise when you move from one arena to another only to discover that the TLA you thought you had consigned to memory now means something completely different in the new context: in fact the exact opposite of what you thought!! As I get older, I find the same happening with whole words...
An example of this is 'positivity'. It doesn't appear in some dictionaries and yet, seems already to be taking on a completely new meaning, especially in the medical reports that grace our news channels. I have understood it to mean something akin to, "the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude". In relation to the current pandemic, it now apparently refers to the measuring of the number of positive tests for COVID-19, as in "the positivity rate is rising". It seems to me that those two different meanings are in direct conflict with each other. Surely, there can be no way that the rising positivity of test results can be reflected in the rising positivity of the public that COVID-19 is becoming preventable (albeit on a long timescale)? Since when was it appropriate to use a word that points to something good to describe something so dispiriting and life-depleting?
Another phrase that is getting a lot of attention at present concerns the perceived need to "Save Christmas". Here again, there are opposing layers of meaning. For many businesses, the festive season is often seen as a bringer of good income to boost flagging profits, especially this year in view of the battering that the economy has taken during the current pandemic. Amongst Christian believers, the idea of "saving Christmas" seems a curious concept as the season is the annual reminder of God coming to live amongst humanity in flesh and blood to save the world. Quite a different emphasis and one which we would do well to publicise this year.
I then came across this picture in the ROOTS material: it is entitled "Wow!" which in turn led me back to a short passage from a book entitled, "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten" (Robert Fulghum) which offers this wisdom,
"Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the polystyrene cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that... ... And then remember the Peter-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK"
During the forthcoming Advent season, can I invite you discover the open-eyed WOW (Waiting on Wonder) factor as we prepare for Christmas, not as something that needs to be saved, but as something that needs to be shared. "In the midst of the darkness, the Light is still shining" – words of comfort and hope which all can understand.