"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
150 years ago Alexander Graham Bell was developing his ideas for a device to help those with hearing difficulties and in 1876 he finally came up with a device for transmitting one’s voice and patented his ideas for the telephone. Both his mother and his wife were deaf, and no doubt such a device was useful around the house for finding out what was for dinner or for summoning people to you. The first successful telephone conversation consisted of the famous words “Mr Watson come here, I want to see you.” It wasn’t long though until Bell realised the universal application of this device he had incarnated and global communication technology was conceived.
Alexander Bell knew that a word would be required as a universal greeting for the telephone, so if you were speaking to someone in a different time zone you wouldn’t need to worry about whether to say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’. Bell wanted the word ‘Ahoy’ to be the universal greeting for answering the telephone, but it was Thomas Edison who devised a new word ‘Hello’ which finally won the day.
This New Year’s Eve as we ‘Facetimed’ friends in America and recorded video messages to email to friends and family – I wonder what Alexander would make of this technology revolution and the relative ease of communicating with people all over the world. Today we can text, video message, call, facetime, whatsapp, anybody, anywhere and at anytime. We have instant communication with everyone at the press of a button. It is simply amazing.
In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message, he encourages us to reconnect with people. To choose just one person and reconnect with them, either by text, phone call or whatever means necessary. To reconnect with others in some way, to reach out to them and speak words of friendship. Justin Welby said that sometimes we think of heroes doing great things, but we can all be heroes to someone. He says: “Every time we reach out and connect with someone it is an act of heroism..don’t underestimate it.”
If there is one resolution we can make this year, then why not let it be this: to reach out to others and offer them words of friendship. After all that’s exactly what God has done for us. In that baby born in Bethlehem, the Word became flesh and lived amongst us. God reached out to us with the Word. The very first global communication, long before Alexander Graham Bell patented his idea. A Word that goes out to all the world, as God connects with us in a new way. This universal word in which God says to us “Hello”.