Thought for the month of December
As we approach Christmas, I find myself reading again the Bible passages that talk about the birth of Jesus. I have sermons to write and Christmas Carol Services to prepare for. So, what can I say that is different? How can I put this wonderful story into words that will connect with people and appeal to children but will not dilute the meaning.
Most people in this country whether or not they are Christians, will know the Christmas story. The main characters of Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus, the Angel Gabriel and a host of other angels and shepherds, together with the well-behaved cattle and sheep and a rather heroic donkey all congregate in a stable accompanied by beautiful singing.
And then we have, some alternative characters. According to that great Christmas film, Love Actually, the big orange Lobster made an appearance at the stable too. He may not be a part of any of the Gospel stories that I have read, but maybe he has his part to play.
The presence of the lobster makes quite a good point. Because it demonstrates that you don’t need to fit in with the traditional story to be welcomed by the baby Jesus. We aren’t shepherds or Angels, or lobsters or wise men, we may not have been there in that stable on that night, but each one of us whatever we look like and whoever we are is welcomed by Jesus.
Christmas is the time when we all come to the manger to worship. We find there our memories of other Christmases, of our own childhood, perhaps a reminder of the birth of our children and of a love that is greater than all of our individual love put together, a love that transcends the boundaries of nationality and ‘species’ and time.
And we can share that love and do our part in making sure that no one is outside of it. Everyone is included.
But people do sometimes feel outside of that love, even those we people we know, they can be hiding their loneliness and feelings of isolation behind their closed doors. Illness and bereavement can leave people alone and without hope and those feelings are so intensified at Christmas.
The Church aims to be a place where everyone is welcome and valued and where everyone can feel that they belong. But it doesn’t always reach those most in need. And so, we all have our part to play in looking out for those we know who would welcome a smile or a card or an invitation this Christmas time.
This year as I listen to the familiar story of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. I will be praying for those people who don’t know that they are included God’s love.
And this makes me realise that I don’t need to worry about novel ways of telling God’s story. We can never repeat His story enough, we need to hear it and enter into it and tell it again to those who have forgotten it.
Nothing can be more important than this, that God has come to be with us. He does not come with power and might and huge sacks of presents, But God comes as himself. In the child in the manger and through him we receive the gift of love, and the meaning that we are searching for, not only on Christmas day, but for the whole of our lives.
God Bless you and I hope you all have a very happy Christmas.
Much love, Deborah