Christmas Letter to Arnold Methodist Church magazine
Christmas is getting ever closer. As is usual at this time of year there seems to be so much to do and so little time to do it. Still it is important that we once more grapple with the meaning of the season.
The gospel offer rich narratives concerning the coming of Jesus.
Luke portrays a happening on the margins of society. He tells us of young pregnant girl who responds to her situation with both obedience and a somewhat feisty spirit in her song, Magnificat, in which she speaks of a transformation in which the seemingly unimportant people will be raised up at the expense of those who had hitherto ruled the roost. Moved like pawns on a chess board by the mighty Roman Empire, they come to Bethlehem where the child is born. But there is no reception by the powers of the day. Instead it is those who would be regarded as of no great significance who meet the Holy Family - shepherds and quiet faithful souls such as Simeon and Anna. For Luke the coming of Jesus takes place among those who would be seen as the disposables.Yet Luke with a bit of a subversive edge shows many of the titles commonly granted to Caesar Augustus being more truly belonging to Jesus.
Matthew tells us of visitors. In his case they are a different type of outsider. Through him we meet the magi who would have been foreigners with a different faith allegiance.Meanwhile there is no response from the religious professionals. And Israel's King, Herod the Great, who despite his propaganda is not truly Jewish and who owes his position solely to Rome, actually wishes the child harm leading the Holy Family to seek refuge in the same Egypt where their forefathers had once been slaves. Matthew will remind us of ancient Jewish prophecies which he will present Jesus as fulfilling
while daring to suggest that God's salvation is wider than many had envisaged.
Mark and John offer no nativity stories. However, John's Gospel begins with a prologue which is rich in meaning. He tells of The Word present with God at creation before making the remarkable claim as he introduces Jesus - "The Word became flesh and lived among us." This is the good news of Christmas that God has entered into human living through this Jesus.
These are but tasters of the things we will be contemplating in coming weeks. For here is rich treasure. The coming of Jesus demonstrates God's love for the world and through Jesus' birth and all that flows from it, things can never be the same. The light has entered even the darkest of places and can never be put out!
May your Christmas be a blessed time.