Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christmas - what a party    (12/21/2014)

Partying's what the season is all about, isn't it? Office parties, after which the photocopier is never quite the same. Nights 'on the town' with friends or colleagues, about which you memory is never quite clear. Family gatherings - which seemed a great idea when you planned them.

Piles of presents, gallons of drink, mountains of food, plenty of Rennies, tacky music, even tackier lights... and we all arrive in January with a terrible headache. What other way is there to celebrate Christmas?

I guess you might expect me to say something very negative about all this. Christians are often seen as party-poopers, but actually I am a big fan of partying, not least because Jesus was, too. And he wasn't averse to the odd drink, either. When the wine ran out at the end of a wedding, he converted 150 gallons of water into best quality wine. And that was at the end of a wedding!

No, I am in favour of a good party, and what better reason could there be for celebrating than the birth of a baby, especially this baby? It is almost beyond the grasp of our imagination that the infinite and uncontainable creator of the universe would take on human flesh. We could imagine him appearing disguised as a man, perhaps, in order that he might have some fun (like the Greek gods were supposed to have done), to demand worship, or to issue edicts. But Jesus came as a real baby.

It's preposterous! A slip of the hand, and he'd have been paralysed for life. A virus, and God would have been killed. The whim of a thief, the vagaries of illness, the carelessness of a parent... any of these could have thwarted whatever plan he had. The displeasure of the rulers could have seen him silenced for ever, killed and forgotten.

Except this is what God did. He took the inconceivable risk of taking humanity upon himself and reaching out to us in love. It was the only way he could draw us back to life, back to freedom, back to relationship with him. And when humanity thought we had silencedhim? Actually, that was the moment of his greatest gift of all. And all of this is a gift that you and I can be part of. What greater reason can there be for partying? We should be celebrating like we have never done before!

However, this kind of celebrating looks quite different from the kind of celebrating that may well be going on around us. The parties we throw reflect the thing we are celebrating. A 5-year-old's birthday party is quite different from a stag do.

So let me throw the question back to you: Why the partying? Does it mean anything at all? Have you found a reason behind the festivities? And if you have, how are you going to celebrate? This is an important question, for when we get this party right, we have an eternal one to look forward to; and that really is a invitation not to refuse.

Pray: Lord Jesus, Thank you that you took the risk of being born as a baby for me. Help me to celebrate that this Christmas, in the way I rejoice, but also in everything I do and say. I am sorry for the ways I have cut you out of my life. I want you to be the heart of Christmas, and the heart of my life, and help me discover what this is all about. Amen.

Going Deeper There are a great many things you can do to help you focus in the right places this Christmas. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Take an evening to go to a carol service or something that helps you reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.
  • Give gifts that help the poorest people in the world; buy fair trade, or ‘give a goat', for example.
  • Put some time aside each day to read part of the Christmas story and reflect on it in all that you do (start with Luke [NT]chapter 1, and keep reading on)
  • Relationships matter to God. Is there a friend or member of your family who you need to get right with? Why not e-mail them, or ring them?

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