Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christmas Cracker!

This is a version of the talk I used this morning at the Maralin Village Primary School carol service in Magheralin Parish Church. My props were the cracker, with the stuff inside, which was made last night, and larger versions of the three items.

This morning we're here to think again about the Christmas message. I've brought something special with me to help us. But you need to guess what it is. It's something we have on the table at Christmas Dinner. But you don't eat it. It is, of course, a cracker. Inside this special cracker, we have some things that will remind us of the Christmas message.

So after two kids pulled the cracker, we remove the things inside to see what they tell us about the Christmas story. Now, what do we normally find in a cracker? We have a joke, a party hat, and a toy. But this is a special one, so instead of a joke, we have a piece of paper giving us a Bible text - Matthew 1:18-25.

So the first thing we find in the cracker is a party hat. What shape is it? It's a crown. The crown reminds us of Jesus being the king. As we heard from one of our readings, the Magi came seeking the King of the Jews who had been born. Recently I was over in London, and visited the Tower of London. There, I got to see the Crown Jewels, worn by the Queen. They were all sparkly, and shiny, with the diamonds and the gold. But all that is nothing to the crown Jesus wears as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus, the baby, is born King.

The next two items will help us to think about the names of Jesus we find in the passage. So the first item is a cross. But why have we got a cross when we're thinking about the Christmas story? Jesus means 'God saves.' And Jesus saved us through dying on the cross. At Christmas we think of the baby Jesus, but he grew up to live as a man, and to die on the cross for our sins, in our place. The cross was the reason Jesus was born, so that we would be saved.

The final thing we find in our cracker is a ring. The ring is a symbol of love and commitment. Back in the summer, I bought a ring, and asked Lynsey to marry me. Thankfully, she said yes, and we got engaged. But it was the ring that showed our love and commitment. Some people think that God is far away, watching us from a distance but not really caring about us. But the Christmas message is that God has come among us - Jesus is God in human form. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to come among us, and save us. At the end of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus promised that he is always with us - 'And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age' (Matt 28:20).

So there we are, we have found the Christmas message in the cracker. Jesus, the baby is the King. He died to save us on the cross, and is the symbol of God's love. Happy Christmas!

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