I am always a little surprised how early Christmas decorations appear, they have drifted into November. When I was growing up, the Christmas decorations went up a week before Christmas. We always seemed to be behind everyone else’s decorations. By contrast, the decorations disappear very quickly within the twelve days of Christmas. I am not sure if people have become tired of the space that the decorations occupy and want their home back to normal, or perhaps the old wives tale of a year’s bad luck if you fail to get them putaway still holds some power. Whatever the reason, the long expected and awaited Christmas is very quickly put away and boxed up for another year.
Now, try to remember your best Christmas present. I do realise it was last year but it is still only a week ago! Try to remember who gave you such a thoughtful and special present that you really wanted. Now imagine taking that present putting it in a box, sealing it and putting it away for next Christmas. The present is so special that you decide to use it only at Christmas every year, that way it will never really get used or ever wear out. What kind ofreaction do you think you might get from such a generous present giver?It may well be the last present you receive from that person!
My point is that thestoryof Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, however,if he just gets born and that is all that happens, it is just a short story and not life changing. But that is not what happens, there is a whole life to be followed and engaged with. Yet, it seems people are happy to celebrate a birth and ignore the significance of the life that follows. The birth becomes important because of the significance of the life lived by Jesus. As we follow Jesus’ life, it brings a new perspective to the ordinaryworld that was around him. Everyday events and experiences took on new significance as Jesus encountered life. At the heart of this Jesus lived an ordinary existence,nota privileged sheltered life. He encountered people in desperate need, often cast out from their community. Jesus met their need and reintegrated them back to their families and communities. He was equally eager for people to encounter and engage with God. Through Jesus,we get glimpses of how God sees the world and how God seesand cares for us.
People thought that God had forgotten them and did not care. But the opposite was true, God was there waiting for them to find their way home. Unlike the person who gave that special present that you put away for next year, God will keep trying each and every time to engage and find us. It is more a matter of whether we have forgotten about God. Perhaps we put him away until Christmas next year or there is an emergency we cannot handle. That is not a healthy way to encounter Jesus.
Rev. Martin Wood. The Rectory, Church Lane, Cheriton Bishop EX6 6HY 01647 24119 (Tuesday to Sunday) firstname.lastname@example.org