By the time you receive this month’s newsletter we will have started the season of Advent, and the build up to Christmas.
Advent is the time of the year when in our services we look at the last things and the second coming of Jesus. But it is also like Lent, a time of preparation and reflection.
Reflection and preparation in readiness for a great event, the celebration of the Birth of Christ, the day when God took a great risk and became flesh and dwelt among us.
Too often Advent can get lost in the preparation and present buying and Christmas is upon us before we know it, and it’s all too easy to forget just what Christmas is really about.
In many ways the thought of an Almighty and all powerful God, becoming human and being born as a tiny helpless baby in a mucky stable is something a little bit absurd.
But throughout the Bible there are stories of people who met God in unexpected ways and places – take Moses, looking after sheep on a mountainside, who encounters God in a bush; or Jacob fleeing from his brother’s wrath sleeping on a stone pillow at the place renamed Bethel because from his dream there he had perceived it as the house (beth) of God (el).
So, on reflection, is it really surprising that God should manifest himself in a seemingly insignificant baby, born in a cave used for cattle; or that the baby’s first visitors, should be shepherds, regarded as rogues whose word could not be trusted in a court of law? As we read the familiar Christmas stories and sing carols old and new, may they remind us that none of us is too “ordinary” to receive God, in Jesus, into our hearts and into our lives.
I wish you all, your families and friends, a very happy, Advent, Christmas and a blessed New Year, and look forward to seeing many of you at our various Advent and Christmas services, and I finish with a blessing for Christmas --
May the eagerness of the shepherds, the joy of the angels, the perseverance of the wise men, the obedience of Joseph and Mary, and the peace of the Christ-Child be yours this Christmas, and the Blessing of God almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you throughout the festive period.