Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Presence

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
We had a bit of an interesting situation for ours. To explain, let me take you back a few days to when I was wrapping my presents. Most of them were done except for a few main ones that had no real bulk... I'd left them in a small carrier bag by the pile of wrapped presents and intended to wrap them last on Christmas Eve.

When I came home from work though,I discovered to my horror that they were missing. I searched high and low... I completely trashed my room looking for the bag. I had a familiar suspicion in my mind as to what had actually happened to them but I tried not to entertain that thought.

Fast forward to just after the Midnight Eucharist in the early hours of Christmas Day; the bag still hasn't shown up and I'm really bothered now.

Now my mother has a certain reputation... and my father is very quick to point it out. She has a habit of throwing out important things like ooh I don't know, cheques, bills and cold hard cash... into the rubbish. This had been my initial suspicion about what had happened to the presents... but it was Christmas and I had chosen to ignore it (it being the season of goodwill and all).

Nevertheless, when I came home from church after the morning service... Mum, true to form handed me a small plastic bag... and there inside were the presents for my sister, her boyfriend and mum herself.

So it was not under a pristine tree laden with gold and silver tinsel, flashing lights and baubles... that my mum's present was found. Nor was it wrapped in fine shiny paper. No... mum's present was found to be in the most unlikely of places... a smelly rubbish bin in the kitchen.

It got me thinking of a parallel with the Christmas story (well actually Epiphany, but seeing as most people tend to think of the wise men arriving at the Nativity, I thought I'd play on that a little.)

It also has a lot to do with what I was saying a few days ago about God's choice. First lets look at the scripture:

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."
Matthew 2:1-11
Jesus was not be found in the capital city... the seat of power from where king's reign. Nor was he to be found in a richly decorated palace - the magnificent home of a king.

No. Jesus was found in a sleepy rural backwater village that few people remembered or cared about... except when it came to taxing the people, making a census... or remembering the glory days of King David - Bethlehem's other great son. Again, God's choice was not man's choice.

So the question I want to ask today is... where do you look for your presents? Or more to the point: where do you find you Christmas presence?

Did you go to church expecting to find Jesus amidst the bells and smells - the pomp of the usual annual service? Did you come away disappointed? Did you come in search of meaning and find an empty box inside your wrapping paper?

I want to encourage you today that there is hope. Go and look in the garbage. Scary as it may seem, delve through all the banana skins and stink of superficial stuff... dig right to the bottom - I'm not talking about the bin in your kitchen...I'm talking about the human heart. We have a tendency to get bogged down by things that really aren't important... and we miss out.

However, God gives us this promise in scripture - that if we look for him with all our heart... we will find him:

"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath."
Deuteronomy 4:29-31

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13
I really encourage to find a quiet place and look for God in your heart through prayer.

May you find that place in your heart... and be overjoyed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nick - I made it to your blog again after a long absence and am leaving a message after your pointing out that a lot of people seem not to!


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