The news broke last week that the computers of one of largest hotel chains in the world has been ‘hacked’ resulting in the personal information of up to half a billion guests becoming lost in cyber space. It seems then that even the most sophisticated protection software has its limits, reminding us of the vulnerability of even the best protective systems in the world. This, as we know, was no isolated occurrence. Banks and other financial institutions along with national and international businesses have often suffered the same fate. One leading high street bank admitted last week that they fight off potential hackers every day. Last year the NHS was ‘attacked’ when hackers succeeded in crashing a system that was supposed tobe entirely safe and secure.
What then can we do to protect ourselves? We could, of course, send a cheque through the post- the problem is that very few businesses will accept payment in that way any longer. What about hard cash? – for generations past the only means of payment. That would bring all sorts of security problems and would hit the major on line retailers who trade and survive by our bank details. It looks then as if that little plastic card which we often see ‘swiped’, and whose details we innocently enter for online purchases is not all that we thought it would be! Those half a billion people whose information has been lost in this latest hacking will have no knowledge in whose hands this information now lies – and that is worrying to say the least!
Jesus spoke much about loss. The lost sheep was eventually found as the shepherd went out to find the one that had gone astray. The Prodigal son was far from home suddenly realised what he had left behind.His dad reached out to him as the lad fell weeping into his loving embrace. This Advent season we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world to ‘seek and to save that which was lost’, and are reminded again that God longs to welcome us from our wanderings. His love and forgiveness are there for us all even though for so long we may have lived outside his will. Weary from our wanderings our greatest need this Christmas may be to just allow his love to find us – never to be lost again!