Christmas seems to come upon us very quickly often leaving little time for preparation unless you are someone who is very well organised, like a friend who buys Christmas cards in the New Year sales!
I can remember vividly a family Christmas day when we all gathered together and our children, all under 10 years of age, proceeded to open their presents. Within 15 minutes every present was open and wrapping paper was strewn around the room and they started complaining about the presents they hadn’t received! Christmas was over! I started to think about the hours of effort that had gone into selecting gifts, writing cards, preparing food and meals, putting up Christmas decorations and all amongst a heavy working time, where we were all looking forward to a good time and a rest with family and friends. It all seemed to be over in 15 minutes! Is Christmas all about supporting our High Street stores I wondered?
The Christmas journey though isn’t about lots of preparation for 15 minutes on 25th December with a nice meal and a sleep in the afternoon. The Christmas journey is about something much deeper; bringing hope to the forgotten, purpose for the lost, healing for the broken, generosity to neighbours, peace to families, friends, communities, countries and the world. The Christmas journey is about God and the pain he sees amongst those he loves and his desire to bring to us a way of putting things right.
The Christmas journey is about a loving God breaking into our world, not as judge and jury, as victorious dictator, as a deity assigning the sinful to hell; but as a simple baby, born as a refugee into poverty, growing into a man, fully human and fully divine, who can forgive sins, heal, teach and bring people to himself, into his kingdom, God’s kingdom.
The Christmas journey is to come to know God’s deep love in Jesus Christ; to know he is the bread of life, the light of the world, the way, the truth and the life, the giver of living water, the good shepherd, the resurrection, the gate to God’s kingdom. Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Son of the Most High, Emmanuel ‘God is with us’, our Saviour, Messiah, the Lord.
The Christmas journey is one to engage with and to embrace. In the Church calendar it begins at the end of November on the 1st day of Advent, travels through Christmas day to the cross on Good Friday and then onto the glory of the Resurrection on Easter day and to the Holy Spirit coming amongst us on the day of Pentecost. In reality it is a lifelong journey of letting Christ into your life, bringing his love to others and growing deeper into him as we endeavour to be more like him.
On Advent Sunday we will be sending out figures of Mary & Joseph into our community. They will be hosted in schools and in homes on their travels. These figures are a symbol of taking Christ into your home and hearts with prayer and passing them onto the next person with prayer. Mary & Joseph will come into Church on Christmas day after their journey. We are encouraging people to sign up in Church to host Mary & Joseph for an evening and to take a photograph of them with a few words of your experience, so that we can build a visual record of their journey on our web site for all to see here. You may want to share a time of coffee or a meal between the giver and the receiver as a sign of fellowship and peace.
Our Christmas is nothing like the one with paper strewn around the floor and over in 15 minutes, it is one to prepare for, to savour, to grow into, to celebrate with friends, family and strangers; one to know Christ, to love Christ and to be like Christ to others.
I wish you all a Christ filled Christmas and may the peace of our Lord be always with you.