Sunday, December 24, 2006

Things to Come

I sadly have not yet had the honour of becoming a parent, knowing the agony and ecstasy of watching something that is a part of you grow up and realising their own personal destiny.

However, I am knowledgeable enough to realise that when a child is born, nobody really knows quite what to expect along the rocky path of pilgrimage that is life on Earth.

Though this is true of every child, it was especially the case with Jesus Christ - not just for his parents, but for all those around him.

When you look at a child it easy to project your own ideas and aspirations about who or what he shall be... because to our eyes a child is an open book.

Even if you take the slightly unsubtle angelic gesture proclaiming the birth of Christ, then just a week into his natural life... Jesus was causing a lot of commotion.

Simeon spoke of him:

"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

I wonder what Mary made of that? As far as we know, it is the first time she had any hint that the life of Jesus would be marked with controversy and suffering.

A short while later and Mary, Joseph and Jesus get a visit from some foreign wise men. They bring gifts "gold for a king", no surprise there... that's in line with what the angel said... Son of David, reigning over his kingdom - no problem. "Frankincense for a priest" - hmm interesting - whatever could that be referring to? After all Jesus was of the tribe of Judah - not Levi. What could it mean? Finally, "Myrrh" for the grave. Now everybody dies... but these gifts were to signify that kingship, priestly virtue and death were to play a major role in Jesus destiny. What could it all possibly mean?

As Jesus grew into a healthy teenager, favoured by God and men... he began to openly recognise the unique nature of his relationship with God in heaven. Hew began to say and do things that made his earthly family uncomfortable.

Eventually as a man, he struck out on his own... pursuing his Father's business, THE Father's business - namely making known the good news of the Gospel message: healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, proclaiming the forgiveness of sins and the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Just three and a half years later, his body hung limp on a cross - bruised, battered, cut to ribbons, drained of blood and life.

Just three days after that he was ALIVE. Not just revived, he had gone beyond death and become something so magnificent and wonderful... we can barely grasp the concept.

No one could have seen that coming as he lay gurgling away in the straw of Bethlehem. Who could have seen it?

My Christmas message to you is simply this:

What is Jesus to you? What do you expect from him? Is he merely forever frozen in time and space as an infant fairy tale on a stained glass window? Is he a wise teacher? Or is he the magnificent and wonderful risen Lord who comes to change the destiny of mankind? My challenge to you, whatever you see Jesus as this Christmas... is to let him grow in your heart.

"Don't be afraid!" That is what the angels said to the shepherds... and that is what I say to you. Don't worry about what Jesus will become in your heart, or fret over who or what that will lead you to become. Unleash God in your heart and just wait and see what happens.

God bless and Merry Christmas!

Nick

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