Monday, December 07, 2009

Where is God in the Tinsel and Turkey?

That's the question we were thinking about at Open House last night. With so much emphasis on shopping, eating, drinking, partying, eating, gifting, where does God fit into Christmas?

Robert was speaking, and directed us to an unexpected Christmas text. If you were going to preach on Christmas, I expect you wouldn't go to the Passion narrative, to the account of Jesus before Pontius Pilate. Much safer to go to the angels and shepherds and stars and wise men / magi. We want to hear about Jesus' birth, not just before Jesus' death. And yet Robert was spot on. A great Christmas text, from the middle of John 18:
You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I came into the world - to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. (John 18:37)
Forget stables and stars for a moment - here's the essential Christmas message, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ found in three unique features:

1. A unique kingdom - Jesus' kingdom is not of this world, not like other kingdoms with geographical borders and beginnings and endings. Jesus' kingdom is coming, and is in the hearts of his followers.

2. A unique birth - John 1 shows us that in the case of Jesus, he is not a new creation, but is the result of incarnation - God taking on flesh. Jesus was born, but he had a before - he was with God in the beginning, when all things were made through him. The other gospel accounts flesh this out (pardon the pun) in the uniqueness of Mary's virginity and the conception and birth of the Lord Jesus.

3. A unique purpose - Jesus came into the world for this purpose, to bear witness to the truth. We hear so many lies about what we really need at Christmas time - it wouldn't be Christmas without Marks and Spencer food or the latest gadget. But the thing we need the most is truth - The Truth, the one who is Truth, speaks Truth and can be depended on.

This Christmas time, are we listening to the Truth, the voice of Jesus? This is the whole message of Christmas - God with us, speaking to us. Will we listen?

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