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St John’s Southgate

09 Sep 2020

Affirmation of 100

By Pastor Tom Hoffmann

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I recently found myself googling to find out what the 100 emoji meant.

Unless you’re even further out of the loop than I tend to be, you’ll know the emoji I’m talking about. It’s simply a red “100” in a handwritten style, and it’s underlined twice. As with many things that have me scratching my head as I scroll through social media, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what people were trying to say when they would wheel out this wordless communicator. It turns out that it means 100 per cent, or full marks – which is the reason it is written in red and underlined twice, being reminiscent of an enviable mark on an exam paper. So, when someone responds to something with a “100”, they’re giving an affirmation – an unequivocal one at that. Yes, go ahead and laugh, maybe it is obvious!

I thought of this knowing that this edition of Southbank News was its 100th. It seemed more than appropriate to bring it up, because this publication, from me as a reader and a contributor, gets full marks. Sean Car and everyone at Hyperlocal News provide a valuable local news source, but just as, if not more significantly, they play a big part in building a sense of community this side of the river. It has been an honour to write for the paper and I wish Sean and the crew every blessing for 100 more.

As with anything that reaches a three-figure milestone, I’m sure Southbank News has faced its challenges – has had its lows as well as its highs – which, of course, is to be expected. But the good thing about milestones is that they remind us that whatever hardships we’ve met, whatever obstacles have been presented before us, they have ultimately been overcome, and thus, the journey continues.

In the Hebrew scriptures we read of the faith father, Abraham. He is one of the greatest biblical exemplars of keeping faith through ups and downs. We’re told that when he reached the age of a hundred – yes, well before emojis were a thing – he didn’t yet have a rightful heir. The thought of raising a child at that point was for Abraham and his 90-year-old wife, Sarah, laughable! And yet, just as they had come through challenges before, and would again, they welcomed Isaac into their family. After long lives, with their inevitable mortal ponderings, they were presented with new life. In Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac, the promise that life goes on was not just a pleasant thought or an abstract concept, it was made manifest.

We’ve all been counting the weeks of Stage 4 restrictions and we’ve been aware of unpleasant milestone figures in lives lost being reached. These things wouldn’t have anyone tapping on the “100” emoji in celebration, but when we find ourselves overwhelmed by these figures, perhaps we can be comforted by simmering down to a reduction in our quantification. One.

Right now, one baby is being born across the river. Right now, one older sibling is meeting their little sister for the first time. Right now, believe it or not, doors are being opened artistically, creatively, or professionally for someone. And right now, one God – as written of in those Hebrew and Greek scriptures – can remind us that even when it seems hopeless, pitiful and laughable, that life goes on – and not just that, but that it will be good.

2-0-2-0 may be four figures that when conjoined will forevermore raise an eyebrow, or force a frown or nervous laugh, but the grace of God and the blessedness of humanity that we’ve seen on display through this COVID-19 crisis are worthy of that “100” emoji. If, indeed, I do understand its meaning correctly. If not, I’ve still got Jesus who’ll love and forgive even this clueless social media user •

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