Tuesday, 22 December 2015

God's Choice - Sunday 20th December 2015

At Christmas, we celebrate the moment when God came to be one of us. It was quite unexpected. But that is not the only surprise in the Christmas story. Having got passed the basic idea of God becoming human, we come to the fine detail of how God chose to do that. God did not chose to come in wealth; he came in poverty. He did not choose to come in power; he came in weakness. He didn’t choose to come in comfort; but chose the inconvenience of the manger.
This is God’s way. This is what God is like. And this is what God calls us to be like. As Jesus put it towards the end of his short life: "whoever wishes to be first among you must be servant of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for many.”
It is in our nature, as human beings, to choose the biggest, fasted, flashiest, most impressive things available. But God did the opposite. He chose humility and obscurity. He chose the manger, and a handful of shepherds.
Across the long story of human religion, we like our gods to be big and powerful. However, when God came to live among us, he chose to be small and weak.
Happy Christmas

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Challenge & Reassurance - Sunday 13th December 2015

After becoming pregnant, Mary, Jesus’ mother, had a challenging few months. First came Joseph’s divorce scare, then Mary hurried off to stay with her relative, Elizabeth - the expectant mother of John the Baptist. We don’t know what prompted this hasty visit to Judea (about four day’s walk from Nazareth). Perhaps Mary was being packed off by her family to avoid embarrassing gossip in Nazareth. Perhaps she ran away to the one person who might believe and understand her story. Possibly both. Whatever the cause, it was a fairly major undertaking for a young woman in the early weeks of pregnancy.
Mary was wonderfully welcomed. Elizabeth did indeed believe and understand Mary’s situation. Such a greeting must have been a great reassurance for the girl. (Luke 1:39-45)
There are two things to pick up from Mary’s experience. Firstly, that being caught up into God’s plans does not promise an easy life. Far from it! Being caught up in God’s plans can make our lives a whole lot more complicated. On the other hand, God does give us moments of encouragement - and these are important. When we put ourselves out to do what is right under God, he will give us reassurance when we most need it, just like he did to Mary.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Unexpected - Sunday 6th December 2015

When Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary and Joseph there were three expectations: he would take the throne of his ancestor, David; he would save his people from their sins; and he would be called the Son of God.
The Old Testament prophets had identified plenty of failings that were in need of forgiveness - that was expected. And the hope that a Messiah would restore the Davidic dynasty was a well established Jewish expectation. But the idea that a Messiah (a Christ) would be God’s own child was almost entirely unexpected.
We often fail to grasp how shocking that revelation was. God was going to become one of us, and live among us, entirely like us.
Within Christianity we have become accustomed to the idea that Jesus was the Son of God. We seem comfortable with it as a core doctrine. The part that challenges us is that God became the “Son of humanity” (the term that Jesus consistently used to describe himself). We like to think of Jesus as being special, but the central point of Christmas is that he became ordinary.
This month we celebrate the moment when God became utterly human - just as human as you and I. That was, and for many still is, quite unexpected.