A wife was complaining to her husband, “Why do you go outside on the deck when I’m practising my Christmas carols? Don’t you like to hear me?” “It isn’t that” he said “I love to hear you”. “It’s just that I don’t want the neighbours to think I’m not being nice to my wife!”
Christmas does bring both happiness & tensions.
It brings a time when more people are involved in one activity around the world than at any other time.
Whether we live in a unit, tent, a palace, a barracks an adobe, hut, a jail or whatever, wherever somebody strings a few Christmas lights across a tree somewhere, the language of Christmas is universal.
If we cut away all the stuff that’s has got mixed up with it over the years, Santa Claus, presents, carols, holidays, what we end up with is the idea that God became a human being in a smelly cattle shed. It’s a startling claim. Even if we decide to dismiss it as a myth somebody made up there is still the fascinating question what’s the idea behind the story?
Some might say even asking that question is a nonsense, that the course of history gives us no basis whatsoever for any knowledge of God or any access to some sort of higher being that governs our world.
But I think they are like people in a small boat out on the ocean who decide they know where they are to cheer themselves up. I don’t think you can start from what we call human reason alone to think out the answers to the great questions that confront humanity. People who say the Bible is just made up are making that assumption.
The Bible makes a bold claim for itself. That it comes from God and has God’s authority. God gives answers about how to know the present meaning of life and how to have answers distinguishing between right and wrong. It also tells us how to have a relationship with God. All this has to do with a baby 2000 years ago.
Christmas teaches us that if we wish to know God we must in our relationship to the world begin at the completely different place. We do not argue from the structure of the world to God, but rather from the child in the manger to the mystery of the world.
I think the Christmas story tells us that this event is the by far the best starting point for understanding the world.
The Baby in the manger and his death 33 years later is the key which unlocks the mystery of the world for us. Humanity not only needs a God who exists, but a God who has spoke in a way that can be understood.
It’s not an easy thought to entertain when we are hurting as we often are. If there is a God why does he let bad things happen?
YES hard things are at the heart and centre of this world.
But even then the Christmas story has answers, often in the form of questions.
For example. Why would God allow his beloved son to be borne in a stable?
How could he allow him to die on a cross, how was it that the all Supreme Being who made the world could be driven out of the world?
If we are intrigued by the story of God becoming a human being; that Christ walked this earth and loved it, then I want to suggest that we need to investigate and come with an enquiring mind. Healthy scepticism yes, cynicism no!
The child in the manger is a mystery because we do not stop to contemplate him not because it is a mystery in the sense of an impenetrable fog or riddle.
The deepest love is not understood quickly.
To say that everything has to be proven scientifically is not scientifically provable.
Ultimately the mystery of life is not solved by scientific or mathematical formula; nor astronomical the geological discovery but rather by a revealed mystery. Namely the good news. Which can only be believed and yet is hardly believable, that God has become a human being and that now I am no longer alone in the darkness. That's why I celebrate Christmas. The child shows me that in the background of this world there is a supreme being we can call father.
I see that at the centre of this world love reigns supreme not evil.