Well, Christmas … yes, here we are. What has this year meant for you?
I imagine that for most of us it has been a combination of things wonderful and things difficult.
For some of us the balance is more towards one or the other of these.
Whatever your circumstances, we confidently maintain that Christmas is a time of peace, hope, joy and love. Yes it really is! These words may seem unrepresentative if your year has been terribly difficult; to others they may seem trite and “nice”.
But they are powerful words, made real by the presence of God in our world in the person of Jesus.
- He really did bring peace: first and foremost peace in our relationship with our maker.
- He really does offer hope: we are able to look forward (even beyond death) with courage because of what Jesus has done for us.
- He really does bring joy: an ability to stare down the difficulties of life knowing that God actually feels our pain, carries us through it, and promises one day to remove it entirely.
- And he really does bring love: he loves us, more than we will ever know, and his love for us inspires and enables us to love one another.
At Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel: God with us. When we consider the sheer immensity of the universe he created, and the tiny, insignificant dots that we are on a comparatively invisible planet, it blows my mind that he took on human flesh.
What is it about us that he wanted to redeem? I’m not sure I have the answer to that. He simply loves us. He made us and he’s glad of it, even after the corruption of the world.
Let’s take time this Christmas to thank him. It’s not just a time for locking ourselves away with family. It’s also a time for remembering that God remembers us, and that he offers us membership of his own wonderful, eternal family.
May God bless you richly, Mark.
Welcome to St Augustine’s, especially if you are joining us to witness the baptism of Olivia and Tori this morning.
Christmas is now two weeks away… so it’s time to be inviting people to join us at our Christmas services!
Today you should each receive invitation cards, giving basic details of what’s happening. Can you think of friends or family you could invite? Which services would be the most suitable for which people?
The Christmas Eve activities might suit younger families, whereas the late service or the Christmas morning service might suit others better. Take as many cards as you like:
- Put one on your fridge
- Put a couple in your handbag or on your dashboard to remind you to give them out to people this week
- Write on a card the name of someone you’ll see this week with a personal invitation
- Pass them to neighbours, with a personal message.
We face the reality that going to church is not as much a part of people’s regular activities as it used to be. But Christmas is still the time of year that attracts the most people to church. People know the Christmas tunes, are familiar with the key characters of the Nativity, and many people wait until after Christmas before they head away on holidays. All of this gives us great opportunity.
Of course Santa and the North Pole contingent also play a role in people’s Christmases. The generosity and kindness of the original “Saint Nicholas” whose name has become “Santa Claus” has been swamped by the commercialism of Christmas, where we can feel a heavy burden of obligation to buy expensive gifts for numerous people.
Yet the gift of the Christ child remains the greatest gift anyone can receive. The maker of the universe takes on human life in all its trouble, pain and futility, which in a way is a message in itself, screaming at us to put aside the wrapping paper and notice what God has done. In our midst is hope, joy, peace and love, given to restore our relationships with our maker and with each other.
Christmas really is a wonderful time for remembering the things we really need in life, and the manner in which God has indeed provided them for us!
Be bold! Mark