Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice. Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills that we may serve you now and always. Amen.
First let me start by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas season!
Every year when Christmas rolls around I realise how very easy at this time of the year to get caught up in the hype, the presents, the food, and the times spent with family and friends and to lose sight of what Christmas is really all about and its place in our faith life.
I am sure that when many of you read or heard today’s Gospel there was hint of confusion in your minds. Here we are two days after celebrating the birth of our Saviour and we are hearing about Christ’s resurrection. It doesn’t really appear to make total sense at first glance. However, if we take a moment to contemplate Christmas and what it means for us, remembering Christ’s death and resurrection at this time of year is not that strange.
Most of us have known from an early age that Christmas is that time of year when we celebrate the birth of a very special baby, Jesus, who was born as God’s son through a special lady called Mary. As children though, the meaning of this message is somewhat lost on us, and rightly so. The birth of that baby in Bethlehem holds a potent significance in the life of the whole human family. Though we are of course, celebrating the birth of the Christ Child there is a much deeper significance to the event.
What we are celebrating at this time of year is theologically termed the incarnation; in Christ we do not simply have a baby born in peculiar circumstances, we in fact have God Himself coming to the earth to dwell and walk amongst us. Does God come clothed in glory to enact His will upon the human family? No He comes as a meek and humble babe, born in a stable to a carpenter and his wife. And it is here that we can begin to see the reason for remembering the resurrection today.
This miraculous birth leaves us with one big burning question; why? Why on earth did God in His power and majesty choose to come and walk amongst us mortals? Theologians have written many volumes on this topic, but I like to put it rather simply; God became incarnate as Jesus so that He could die. Take a moment to think about that; from the moment of His birth the babe in the manger was walking towards Easter.
I have to admit that I didn’t always look at Christmas in this light, for most of my life I’ve looked at it as the joyous birth of our saviour; and well we should. However, for me, this event has become tinged with a different shade as the story of Christmas is the beginning of the story of Easter. From here all of the life of this little babe was preparing humanity for His ultimate sacrifice for us. And so it is that today we are reminded of that fact by the Gospel reading. We are reminded that this little babe has laid the first foot on the path to Calvary and through His great sacrifice will come the miracle of the resurrection which will open the way for fallen humanity to enter into a restored relationship with God.
If there is one thing that we can take away from today I hope it’s the realisation that Christmas draws its significance from Easter. Christmas isn’t the penultimate celebration of Christ in our Calendar, rather it is the start of the path that leads to the greatest event in human history; the resurrection of Christ. It is my hope and prayer that we can all take a moment today in this busy Christmas season to remember the sacrifice of Christ and all it meant for us and to that God for loving us so much that He came to walk the earth as a simple child so that we could return to His loving embrace.
Let us pray:
Dear God, help us to focus on you today, remembering that the gift of Christ, Immanuel, is our most treasured gift for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. You never leave us. Thank you for your daily Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that your surround us with favour as with a shield, we are safe in your care. We choose to press in close to you today… In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(prayer from http://www.crosswalk.com)