Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Making room

Some thoughts for Christmas Day.There is a lot of scripture that we can read to enliven Christmas Day: Luke 2:1-14, Luke 2:8-20, John 1:1-14, Isaiah 9:2-7; Isaiah 62:6-12; & Isaiah 52:7-10 are some of the lections set for that day.
No doubt if you have been to a Christmas Nativity Play this year
you have seen Mary and Joseph
trudging, looking for somewhere to stay.
It can be quite a frightening thing
I had a brief time earlier this year when on holiday we were without somewhere to stay, and it would have been easy to panic.
Of course it would have done no good!

The Primate, Archbishop Philip Aspinall writes this year
Two weeks ago I was in Bethlehem where Jesus and Christmas were born. A Palestinian man said to me ‘2000 years ago we made a mistake saying “There is no room at the inn". Today there’s plenty of room.’
This is one of the aspects that we naturally think about at this Christmas time.
The little town of Bethlehem
Can we encourage our government to actively work for peace in the Middle East?
rather than promoting the selfish warring policies of self-interest
which so often seem to characterise our western interests.
In a complex world it is not always possible to feel that we can affect the affairs of the world
so maybe we have to focus more intently on making room in our small lives.
Can we simply "make room for Jesus"?

It is one of the threads of mystery and poetry
that runs through the birth stories.
We all know well the room at the inn.
This casual observation is also a hint at the real human problem
No room for Jesus in our lives.

Making room for the God of hope
Because at Christmas we hear a story about a baby
and babies' lives are filled with hope.
They are about what is yet to happen,
the promise that is to come.
We understand this pretty well,
when we visit a newborn
our words to that baby,
are strong and hopeful
...he looks like a footballer,
she has strong lungs
what a fine head of hair
As they grow
the hopes become more substantial, and complex
as children become adults we see that there is hope for independence
that there is great potential
that there is uniqueness.
We muck this up quite a lot
but at Christmas we need to take time to realise
that this struggle to make all this work
is what God intends for us.
It is how we become what God intends us to be.
So I say to you
encourage the hope in your children.
ENCOURAGE do not criticise
but rather voice the hope and offer the support
that babies demand and deserve.
When Jesus is born as a baby this is one of the things that God is showing us.
Fulfillment, maturity, growth
are like the growth of a baby
are what God intends life to be like.

Making room for the God of peace
For most of us Christmas is stressful
as well as joyful
for the lonely and the sad
it can be incredibly depressing.
We love the closeness that it means to family and friends
yet it also exposes
the very lack of peace that the season proclaims.
We are more conscious of soldiers in Iraq
of difficult community tensions
of family pressures.
Peace demands that we address these issues
and Christmas is for us a sign that what we articulate today
needs to pass into reality in our day to day lives.
We can easily say "no racial prejudice", "no war",
on Christmas Day
but we need also to put it into practice from day to day.
Peace will mean simple day to day application
of forgiveness
at home
at work
at school.
Do you want peace then practise it.

Making room for the God of love.
It is a commonplace to say that Christmas is about love.
The carols say it.
Love came down at Christmas.
We are at our most vulnerable in the face of a baby.
We are disarmed, most of us,
and just want to hold it and love it.
Even arrogant and tough young men
have been known to melt.
Do you want to love?
then love,
do you want to be loved
then allow yourself to be vulnerable?

There is much, much more that could be said.
If we want to know what Christmas is about.
Look not at Santa.
look at the baby.
Make room for him
in your life.
It may be that you cannot
put him at the centre
but is there a stable somewhere in your life.

Do you want Christ?

The Christ who is hope
The Christ who is peace
The Christ who is love.

Then make room for him in your life

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