I. Can’t. Wait. For 9 January, that is, when I will finally get to see the West End’s newest and most eagerly anticipated show!
Hamilton, the hip-hop Broadway musical about one of America’s Founding Fathers opened in London on Wednesday and I’m desperate to see it, not least because I’m intrigued to see how it works here.
The play follows Alexander Hamilton from Revolutionary War hero to George Washington’s right-hand man. Amid the trials and the challenges of creating a country almost from scratch, Hamilton bubbles with outrageous hope at the myriad possibilities he can see.
Such a storyline contrasts starkly with the predominant British attitude towards the issues facing us. If America’s prevailing characteristic is optimism, the UK’s often seems to be cynicism; enthusiasm and positivity tend to be ridiculed as disturbingly naive. There’s no doubt that we’ve got some significant challenges to work through as a nation, but it’s striking how few voices are offering any sense of hope.
One theme of Hamilton is that of the stories that shape our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Our current cultural story is one of darkness and despair, yet the story God tells us is that:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
We need not fear the future, we who belong to him, because we know it is safe in his hands. We need not feel helpless before the needs of our nation and our neighbours, because we have a God who can and will and does make a difference. He is the God who brings tyrants to their knees, who feeds the hungry and clothes the poor, who shines in the darkness and whom the darkness does not, will not, cannot overshadow.
Many churches lit the first candle on their advent wreaths last Sunday, representing a blaze of hope in the darkness. One of the most revolutionary things we can do as Christians is to carry this flame of hope into the world, to play our part in the story illuminated by the knowledge of how it ends.
Whatever your circumstances, your worries, and your fears, may you be filled anew with hope this Christmas as you once again read and hear and sing the story of outrageous hope found in Jesus, the light of the world.