9 Lessons and Carols 2018
By porthkerryandrhoose, Jan 11 2019 09:11AM
One question I have been asked a lot over the last week or two is "Are you ready for Christmas?" Perhaps you've been asked it too. But have you really thought about what they actually mean? What are people expecting when they ask that question? Are your presents bought and wrapped? Is your house decorated? Have you got all your food in? Is it all 'tidy and sorted'? I guess those are the expectations on us all, especially by now, 2 days away from the big day. We want everything to be just right, so the whole family can enjoy their Christmas. But there will be people, maybe even some of you here, whose Christmases won't be tidy and sorted. They'll be messy. Think of the young mum with a new baby and a toddler, who can barely find the time and energy to get dressed, or the family whose benefits have been sanctioned as they couldn't get to their appointment because their child was sick in the hospital, or the people working over Christmas to keep us safe, well, seasonally dined and merry, or the person alone, dreaming of what might have been. There is so much pressure for Christmas to be perfect that people are going into debt or even worse, depression, because their Christmas can't match up to the picture perfect one we see all around us. It is so tragic, because while we try to make Christmas perfect we forget that it began in a mess. It began in a dirty stable, with a child conceived outside of wedlock, in a town under occupation, and a couple about to become refugees. The first Christmas was a mess. But Jesus was born into the mess to make the wrong right, as Dai said on our film.
The wrong Jesus came to make right started at the very beginning of time in our first reading. God had created a wonderful world full of colour and freedom and joy. There was only one rule: don't eat the fruit from the tree in the centre of the garden. One rule, a myriad of things to enjoy, yet humanity went after the one thing it wasn't allowed. And we haven't changed. We don't seem able to be content with enough, we want it all, and that greed damaged everything. It damaged the world, it damaged our relationship with one another and it damaged our relationship with God. Yet God chose to come and fix it. He promised the one who would crush the enemy's head.
As his plan unfolded, he chose people to help him, as markers along the way to the one he would send. What sort of people would they be? Who would you choose? Would you not pick a superhero? There's been a lot of interest in superheroes lately, Hollywood seems to love to make films for every Marvel character ever drawn, and children long for the superpowers that they possess. But God didn't choose superheroes. He chose people whose lives were a mess.
Take Abraham. He was in our second reading. He was called by God to leave his own land and go to a land God would give him, and God promised that a descendant of his would bless all the nations. Abraham did obey God, but his personal life was a mess. He lied about his wife and said she was his sister, not once but twice. He slept with his slave girl to get a child when God didn't give him and Sarah one quickly enough, causing hurt and upset at the time and down through the generations. It was a mess, but God used him anyway.
Our next reading was about David, God's king, a man after God's own heart. But he was no saint or superhero either. He committed adultery and murder. He was a bit of a mess, but God worked through him anyway, and promised that his descendant would be the one God had promised.
Then we met Ahaz. He wasn't a king after God's own heart. He was more than a mess, he actively worked against God. And yet God still made a promise in conversation with him.. A big one: the virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.
Then, 700 years later Jesus was born. He was born into a messy stable in a messy world, and he went on to die an even messier death. But God was at work. Faithful Simeon saw it as he held the infant Jesus and said " my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.
Here was the one who would make a difference. Jesus. He would crush the head of the serpent, he would obey God when Adam couldn't. He would take all the mess of the world into his own body at the cross, breaking the power of evil, sin and death, and he promised to come back with a newly restored world for all who trust in him. Jesus, the descendant of Abraham, of the kingly line of David, born of the virgin Mary, just as God had promised.
I wonder if you're getting the idea yet? God doesn't wait until we're all sorted out. Our lives don't have to be perfect before he'll love us. Quite the opposite. He was born in the mess to make the wrong right. That's what Christmas is all about. Not a polished royal visit to a few carefully selected guests, but God coming into this messy world, to save it, and to save you and me. Don't wait to be good enough for Jesus. Just let him into your messy life and see what wonders he can do, making the wrongs right in you.