Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Presence

Here's an (attempted) written version of the all-age talk I gave during the Christmas Day Eucharist at St. Andrew's. It was a bit looser & more ad-libbed than this, but the key message was the same...


Who managed to open their presents before coming to church this morning? Did you get anything nice? Well, I didn't get the chance, so I brought mine with me – would you mind if I opened them now?

This ones nice & big! It's... a jumper & hat.
Hmm. I try to get excited by clothes...

Well, onto the second one. The label says “Merry Christmas – thought this would help you clean up your act!” It's...shower gel! I'm always a bit worried if I get this kind of things - are they trying to tell me something?!

Ah, last one – and it's such an unusual shape! I wonder what it is...a torch! Is this some kind of wind-up? Oh, here's a handle – it's a wind-up torch...!

Do you ever feel like the presents are more exciting when you don't know what they are? Don't get me wrong, these are great presents & I'm very grateful for them, but when they were wrapped up& hidden they held so much mystery & promise, and now I know what they are that's all gone.

I wonder how the shepherds felt when, after all the excitement of the angels appearing and filling the sky, they got to the stable? Maybe they had in their mind the kind of nativity scene we've seen around us over the last few weeks (or months) – glowing halos, a fluorescent, radioactive glowing baby, more angels? Instead, its likely they a very ordinary young couple: travellers, homeless, relying on the generosity of others to have a roof over their head, huddled together with a very ordinary looking little baby...

Perhaps they were disappointed at first glance. The wrapper had come off, but the gift seemed so much less exciting. And yet, when they saw the family, “they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.”1 The true worth of the gift of Jesus was not the outside appearance, but what his birth meant – and still means. God with us. The promised saviour is here!

The gifts I just unwrapped might not look exciting, but what do they represent. Maybe the hat reminds me of Jesus with me in my thoughts – his Spirit guiding my prayers – his comfort and his peace when I need him most?

The jumper could be Jesus in my heart, helping me to love the stranger, the poor, the refugee, the homeless – people existing just as Jesus did in his own life, on the margins of society.

The torch could remind me Jesus the light of the world, a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. This one never runs out of power, you just keep winding it – Jesus light shines for ever!

And the shower gel...well, maybe this reminds me that Jesus would go on to die on the cross for me, and for you, to wash us clean from our sins “not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”2

The best present any of us have got this Christmas is Jesus. His love is a gift for today, tomorrow and the rest of our lives. We shouldn't just clear him away with the left-over turkey, or pack him up with the baubles until next year. He is willing to be with us every day, not just at Christmas – and that's a gift that money can't buy.

1Luke 2:17-18
2Titus 3:5

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