I usually post my talks online the day after, so apologies for the delay with this one, but post Christmas has been a tad busy! So here’s the notes fro my talk at our carol service (as usual they are my notes so ignore the highlighting etc)
Intro: carol service at kids
I went to a carol service at one of my children’s schools this week and it was
really lovely, in a wonderful chapel, 9 lessons and carols, cute kids doing the
readings…. just beautiful. And at the end a lady in front of me turned to her
friend and said ‘that’s the nicest carol service I’ve ever been to and I’ve
been to a few over the last 10 years’. I thought, gosh that’s so lovely, what a
nice thing to say. Then she turned back to the friend and said ‘of course its
because there was no sermon!’
I’m very sorry that there is a talk tonight! But hey this is
a church so you’ve got to give us the ‘God slot’…! And I promise not to be too
But that lady did get me
thinking. We want the traditional
is it that as a society largely we want the traditional side of Christmas but
not the God bit? We love the sparkle and bling don’t we, we love a Christmas
jumper, some mulled wine, bit of a sing along with the Buble, but when it comes
to the actual reason why we’re celebrating Christmas, so often that is forgotten, unwanted or swept aside.
Lets think about it – how much time, effort
and money do we spend planning for Christmas? I don’t know about you, but for us the last few weeks for us have been
pretty crazy! So we decided this year to make things as easy as possible. We decided
to do all our Christmas shopping online this year and let’s just say that our
recycle bin might as well be sponsored by Amazon right now, we did an e-card
rather than sending cards this year, I haven’t slaved for hours making
wonderful homemade Christmas presents with love, and the ultimate sin, I’ve
even bought ready made bread sauce (horrors, my Nan would turn in her grave) and
I still have some presents to buy!! But it has still been busy. And the reality
is, I’ve just felt tired and a bit stressed and I have to admit I have not
particularly felt the love of Jesus through all this. And I’m sure I’m not the
only one, right? Anyone else recognizing this scenario??
Need a break?
if like me you’re needing a break, or a bit fed up with commercialism, whoever
you are, whatever you believe, I encourage you, let’s just for a few minutes
open our minds to the possibility that Christmas is more than that. There is more! More than the money spent, more than
over indulgence, more than the Christmas dinner, more than the Next sale on
Boxing Day, more than the gifts – its about the most precious gift of all,
saw on ITV this week a poll which referred to what people believed about
Christmas. One of the questions was ‘is Jesus relevant today?’. 51% of people
after all, why should he be? He was just
a baby born over 2000 years ago in a stable, right? How can he be relevant in
the technological age of the 21st century. So many of
us see just the baby born in a manger, the lovely nativity story, but that’s
all it is to us, a story, and we don’t see its relevance in our lives today.
That is the challenge to us all…
the Luke passage that we heard the Angel says ‘I bring good news of great joy
that will be for all the people’. Good
news for all
good news is not just that a baby was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, the
good news is that that baby grew up to
be a man who showed the most amazing depth of love and compassion to those around him, whether you believe that
he is the son of god or not, he made a
difference. He was a radical. He didn’t put up with the status quo. He challenged the world
order of the day. He made a difference in
individuals lives, to the woman with the issue of blood who was healed on
touching his cloak. To the blind man whose sight was restored. To the father
whose daughter had died and was raised to life. He made a difference to those
individual lives and I am sure hundreds more that didn’t get written down. The
bible says in instances where he preaches to large groups of people that people
brought their sick to him and he healed every one. Every one! He made a difference to those individuals
lives but also to groups of people to
communities. He preached a message
of love, that’s what he came to do, and he is still doing all of that today.
I see him…
I see him impacting individuals lives daily, I see him
encouraging people to challenge the world order and stand against corruption,
help those loving in poverty and hardships, I see him impacting large groups of
people and communities.
And all this from one baby who
was born in a stable 2000 years ago.
nativity is not just a nice heart warming
story that makes us feel good about celebrating this time of year. The
nativity is the beginning of
something. And it can be the beginning of something for each and every one of
End of the year…
interesting that we celebrate Christmas at the very end of the year.
Historically we know it was unlikely Jesus was actually born on Dec 25th. But that is the date we have celebrated on
for hundreds of years.
because it comes at the end of the year we tend to see it in that way don’t we?
How many people have a week off work before the new year? How many businesses
are closed for 2 weeks? Someone drove into my car just before Christmas a few
years ago and the insurance company just told me from the outset they wouldn’t
even look at it until the new year! December
becomes a write off doesn’t it? It’s
about Christmas prep, nativity
plays, end of term concerts, work dos, preparation – buying presents, ordering
the turkey, getting over family difficulties. And I have lost count of the
number of people who have said to me I can’t wait for Christmas so I can have a rest (me included!)
although if you work for the church that means rest comes after the Christmas
day service…! 3 days and counting… but
Christmas is not the end of something,
the birth of Jesus is not a one off event or the end of a story, it’s the
birth, new life.
was the fulfilment of the Jewish scriptures but his birth is also the beginning
of an amazing transformation in this world. And
that can be an amazing transformation in your lives too…
want to tell you a story, it’s set just before Christmas a few years ago. It’s
a story about a couple I know, who were
far from God. Their relationship was failing. They had little time for each
other. They had little hope. Then
God sent an unlikely messenger to
them in the form of a builder. He
proclaimed the good news to them just as the angel did to the shepherds.
the shepherds they were afraid but they were excited by this good news and as
they ran towards Jesus just as the shepherds did, choosing to follow him God healed their relationship, literally
overnight. A Christmas miracle… For them it was a new beginning.
lives have been transformed in amazing ways. Now, they wouldn’t say that their lives
are perfect, or that there are no worries, or that there is no fear of the
future, Jesus is not Harry Potter.
He does not come and wave a magic wand and make everything perfect.
but they would say they are happier than ever
before, that their life has a depth of meaning
that it never had before, that God has led them to places they never dreamed
they would be and that they are filled with a joy and a peace they have not
experienced. They know that ‘there is
That is the transforming power of
Jesus and I know that, because that story is about me and my husband.
that’s the thing. There is so much more to
Christmas than the presents, than the turkey, the family, even that the
nativity story. All the wrapping, the presents, the food, it’s all temporary. What Jesus gives us something eternal.
today I want to say to you, keep your
hearts and minds open. We don’t have to shut the door to the possibility
that Jesus IS relevant for todays 21st
century lives. Be open to the possibility
that ‘there is more’. What Jesus offers us , offers you, is a new beginning…
There is more. This is just the