December 25, 2019

Thoughtful spot – 8.00 am – Christmas Day – Revd Michael Beesley

“THOUGHTFUL SPOT”  -  25.12.19  -  “Christmas Day”

Isaiah 52 vv.7-10: Isaiah celebrates the Good News that the presence of The Lord is returning to His people, and they will have every reason to rejoice because the whole world will see from their divine way of life how God is going to save all nations. .       

Hebrews 1 vv.1-4: The writer of The Letter to The Hebrews reminds his readers that, throughout history, God has spoken to the world through His prophets; but now God has come among us in the life of His Son, who is the perfect reflection of God’s true being. He says Jesus has, by his life and death, purified everything from evil and is now shining more brightly than any angel at the right hand of God.

St John 1 vv.1-14: St John, like the writer of The Letter to the Hebrews, also declares that the Light of God’s Word has been at the heart of creation since the beginning of time; but it has now been seen in Jesus as a perfect reflection of God living among us. Although He was rejected by many people, those who have faith in Him now realise that in Him we’ve seen the glory of God living among us; and blessing us with grace and truth.

What wonderful Christmas readings we’ve just heard. First, the prophet Isaiah rejoices that the presence of God is returning to His people. Because of this, the whole world will see how God will save all nations from all kinds of evil attitudes and actions, like those of the people of Israel, which caused them to be overrun by their enemies and forced into exile.

Then we heard the writer of The Letter to The Hebrews say that, throughout history, God had spoken to the world through the words of the prophets; but He has now come among us in the life of His Son, the perfect reflection of God’s being. The writer declares that, through His life and death, Jesus has shown God’s love is more powerful than any kind of evil. Also, He is now shining more brightly than all the angels and is far superior to them.

And in St John’s rejoicing at the beginning of his Gospel, we heard him also declare that God’s word, through which all things were created, has now been seen in the human form of Jesus living among us.   He says that although Jesus was rejected by many people, those who have faith in Him are blessed to understand the glory of God in Him.

The faithful know that, through Jesus, God blesses us with grace, which means His compassion and mercy; and in Him we see the truth of God living among us.

This is the most profound reason for wishing each other a “Happy Christmas!” because we know God has come among us in Jesus to draw us to Himself

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. So proclaimed the prophet Isaiah (Chapter 9 verse 6), but I wonder if he had any idea what a different and uniquely divine child this would be, very different from most powerful human rulers and monarchs.

First, we are blessed to know that God came among us in a vulnerable baby, born in a stable. This shows that divine Love is willing to come among us through the care of a homeless couple; and brought up in a society under the control of a foreign military power, the Romans, with all the insecurity and perils this might involve like those who have to live today in the conflict zones of Syria, The Yemen and South Sudan..

So Christmas reminds us that we see God’s power and wisdom coming to us in this vulnerable child, and to be later reflected so clearly in the profound teaching, miraculous healings and actions of the adult Jesus.

However, when the religious and state authorities saw Jesus as a threat to their power and influence, God, through Him, did not resort to the human ways of force and violence to resist them. Even though Jesus was filled with devastating fear and terror, as He prayed in Gethsemane, “Father, let this cup pass from me”,   He allowed Himself to be the victim of the worst betrayal, injustice and execution. Then, as He died,  He gave Himself into God’s loving hands and said. “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit”.

From that disaster, Christ’s Mass – Christmas - shows us that God’s love is ultimately more powerful than all the worst evil, terror and terrible pain which we humans are capable of inflicting on one another.

For that baby, born in a stable, grew up to be a perfect reflection of all that is divine, and from death,   He was raised to new life to be reunited with God in the dimension of heaven.  His New Life beyond death was witnessed by His disciples and those with whom He lived most closely.

He turned their grief into joy; and gave them a commitment to spread throughout the world His Gospel,   His Good News of God’s Love, even if this meant persecution, victimisation and execution, all of which were suffered by two of His most committed apostles, St Peter and St Paul..

This is the Good News of Christmas we are celebrating: that the vulnerable baby born in a stable is for us the assurance of God’s love, and He will be alongside us to bring us home to Him through any evil and suffering we have to face.

So, with all the blessings of Christmas, let’s thank God that we are shown, through the birth of this vulnerable baby, how much God loves us and the lengths to which He will go to show it and to bring us to Himself.

So, in a minute of silence, let each of us thank God that He came among us in Jesus,  a vulnerable child, and answer these questions for ourselves:

What does Christmas tells us about God’s love for us?

What does it tell us about what God will do to save us from the evil around us,  and within us,  so He can draw us to Himself and make us one with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven beyond this life?

(1 minute silence)

Finally, let’s praise God for Christmas with slightly modified words of the final verse of the carol: “Hark, the herald angels sing”

Hark! The heaven-born Prince of Peace

Hail, the Sun of righteousness!

Light and Life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in his wings,

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that we no more may die,

Born to raise us, children of earth,

Born to give us second birth,

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the new-born King!  Amen