Our Christmas letter was upbeat. In 2015 lots of nagging, grinding issues got resolved. We're in a better position now for the next ten years of ministry than since we first came to France. At the same time we face significant problems, challenges and disappointments. It's like that, isn't it.
But I did feel a bit bad sending our letter out against a context of cancelled fireworks displays all over France and beyond, closed railway stations in Germany, a state of emergency in France, constant announcements urging vigilance in the public transports and Christians talking apocalyptically about "the darkness closing in".
(Incidentally a young man asked us to watch his bags at the railway station while he went to the toilet. Should one do that or not?)
Yes, there is this generalised fear. I guess that's why they call it terrorism. But in the UK someone or other has been trying to blow us up pretty well as long as I can remember. I was glad that the London fireworks went ahead and that the major gripes afterwards were not about the recklessness of holding the display, but the cost.
And there's another side to the story. The world is more peaceful now than at any other time in history. People are living longer, more prosperous lives. Diseases are being combatted. And the gospel is advancing all over the world.
This magazine article may veer to the other extreme, but let's lift our eyes.