Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas again? How does it come around so quickly? And how is it there still seems so much pressure?

I wonder. Are you looking back with nostalgia to the warmth and excitement of those Christmases of your childhood? Or maybe you are much too busy creating the mystery and thrill of Christmas for your own children?

Yes, we know there is so much commercialism and partying associated with Christmas and, for many, it is a pagan festival, the Christ of Christmas forgotten or  unknown.

Even so, I hope we may not ever become cynical about Christmas, for it is a time for us to remember and spread abroad the wonderful story of Jesus. It is Christ-mas.

I love to tell the children the Bible story; of the Babe,  lying in a manger, because there was no room in the inn; the child sent from heaven, announced by angels, described by the prophet as Wonderful, Prince of Peace and given the name Jesus because he is come to save his people from their sins.

I  encourage the children to identify with the little ones of Bethlehem, watching in awe as so many strangers crowd into their little town. Some might have stayed in their homes as they were all in need of a place to sleep.

With our houses full,  might we children have been sent up onto the roof? But doubtless  we would have been too excited to sleep. We might even have seen Joseph and Mary, he so anxious and she so weary, - but there is no room. We can’t help.

Maybe, in the early hours of the morning we are wakened to hear excited voices, and leaning over the parapet of the roof, we could hear the shepherds sharing the wonderful news of the angel’s message and how they had actually found it all to be true. Yes, they had seen him, this very special babe, lying in a manger, just like the angel said.

Having heard that,  would we have quietly gone back to sleep? Did you, when, as a child, you thought you had heard Father Christmas? I don’t think so. I’m sure those children would soon have been creeping into the stable, or cave, or whatever it was (having asked their parents first – we have to emphasise that.)

Sometimes we end the nativity play with the children too gathering around the manger with their toys or lambs, perhaps  singing

          What can I give him, poor as I am

          If I were a shepherd I would give a lamb

          If I were a wise man, I would do my part

But what I have I give him – give my  heart.

But this can’t be the end of the story. You see, by the time the wise men arrived it says the star was over the house where the family were. After all, who would allow a mother with a new born babe to continue to live in a stable?

I’m sure those children, having seen the holy Baby and heard the wonderful story would have begged their mothers, ‘Couldn’t they come and stay with us? We can make room. Please? Please?’

Somebody made room for that holy family, and today that is what God is asking of us. In all the joy and celebration and partying, will we make room for Jesus?

Instead of nostalgia and regrets for the Christmases of long ago, I am so thankful that Jesus is willing to come and share our hearts and homes, and yes, our Christmas too. 

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