Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas carol service 2014 message

Not many more shopping days to go
My hope for you all is that you have an amazing Christmas filled with love and joy and peace That you will experience The Good will towards human beings on whom Gods favour rests
My prayer too is that blessed as we may be we   will   Be given grace to remember the hungry ,the lonely ,the sad,the bereaved the suffering  the prisoner this Christmas
Our world appears to be on the edge of a cliff Ebola ,ISIS, famine war disease and disaster fill our news papers and dominate our news bulletins this very week people have been murdered in a coffee shop in Sydney and The Taliban have massacred innocents  in a school in Pakistan
For people not least in the middle east and in the lands Jesus walked in his time on earth there is constant bloodshed and violence
With austerity still biting hard  and all the lonely people we do not remain untouched by sadness  in The UK
Yes there is much to be thankful for here in Monkmoor the work of good local schools ,the passion of Monkmoor friends the scouts  and many other people of goodwill Christian and otherwise who long to build a great community here
Of course there are profound problems but there are some great people who have been  blessed with the gift of tears  which they shed with those who are hurting and hearts and hands with which they bless others
What has all this got to do with Christmas ? A time of light and peace joy and if your lucky great parties
The answer is more than we may think
Travel back with me to that first Christmas God sent His Son into the world God is a lavish Giver ! He gave His best for us and it was not easy
Yes there were angels and stars there were Shepherds and wise men
there was also genocide ,mass murder on theorders of a tyrant King Herod a man who would kill his wives his children,his friends had no qualms at all at killing little babies
It is into this dark and dangerous world that Jesus is born Instead of making himself great He makes himself vulnerable He empties himself BECOMES DOWNWARDLY MOBILE
As one translation puts it he set aside the privileges of God ,took on the status  of a slave became human and moved into the community
As Herod begins his killing spree Jesus and his family become refugees in Egypt  yes there were angels and stars Shepherds and wise man that first Christmas but also suffering and pain and death
Suffering pain and death marked the arrival of a vulnerable baby the prince of peace born into a world of pain
Pain is still a reality for many people and many people here this evening too and that sense of pain is magnified at Christmas time
So Christmas tells us that God understands our suffering
For the baby born in the middle of mass murder
Hunted down so he has  to flee to Egypt
grows up to be a man who is persecuted mercilessly by religiouscpeople more interested in form and structure and ritual and power  than faith ands truth and love and at 33 years old having been betrayed by a follower and denied by a friend  he is put to death on a cross  for challenging the status quo
He understands your suffering your sadness your pain your loneliness  considerJesus as each  of these things – vulnerable, poor and on-the-run – speaks to me of a God who desperately wanted to experience the very worst of what this world has to offer.

A God who desires more than anything to be able to relate to us in our own poverty, brokenness and times of despair.

A God who is not distant but desires to be near. To walk amongst us as one who has been through everything, that we might go to Him with anything, so that He might be our counsellor, comforter, saviour and friend. God who is not only with us but for us

The second thing Christmas tells us is that you are loved
Many of us feel unloveable perhaps we feel unworthy ,unwanted alone
But the Christian message is this that God is love God is love God is Love
Jesus is the image of the invisible God if you want to know what God is like look at Jesus
Christina Rosetti wrote
Love came down at Christmas love all lovely love divine love was born at Christmas

And so he was Jesus values people he cared for those no one else cared for
He accepted those society rejected
He welcomed those the religious leaders despised the poor the vulnerable the rejected the bereaved ,the ill ,those with special needs and yes He loves  you you are loved you are so  so loved

Christmas shows that love wins
The bible says the light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not put it out
This Christmas the light is shining in the darkness
Things are not hopeless one day good will overcome evil life will overcome death
Indeed I see hope now
Hope in the  people the communities that open their hearts to the weak and the rejected
those who refuse to surrender to  hate and violence hope will one day crush despair light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it
Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday
Life overcomes death
The baby born in the manger died for us on a cross but is Risen and Is  alive today
The winter makes me sad  I ts not dramatic but I have a few down days every year at this time bit one thing that helps me is that in the winter I feed the birds so I head across in the autumn to the cheapest place i know to stock up on bird seed  hint ?
I bring it back and fill the feeders  when I get a  spare moment I sit amd watch the birds coming to the table  all are welcome all come and feed there is room at the table for them all they didn't buy the food they just have to eat it to receive it  it is a gift
To all who received Him  by faith Jesus we are told gives he right to become chidden of God  you don't have to earn this recieve it just to accept Jesus into your heart

Have a blessed Christmas have fun remember the vulnerable and remember the baby born in a stable is The Saviour of the whole world ! Amen