By now your plans for celebrating the festive season will probably be in place. You’ll be thinking about sending out cards; be well ahead in thinking about gift-giving; and maybe you’ve already started thinking about how to plan Christmas lunch. Or maybe you’ve done none of those things, and you are one of those people that is really glad that the petrol station is open on Christmas Day because there’s always someone that you’ve forgotten.
I’m not known as the world’s most organised person but Christmas Day runs to a timetable! Since I do almost all the cooking as well as running a service, I need to know exactly what’s going on and what I’m supposed to be doing at any time.
This all makes an interesting comparison with the first Christmas. From Mary and Joseph’s perspective the first Christmas was chaos. They had to travel 70 miles on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem with no clear idea of where they were going to stay or what was going to happen when they got to their destination. Chaos.
Bethlehem itself was full of visitors coming to be assessed for their taxes. No one was happy about that except perhaps the tax collectors. Chaos.
Shepherds are just trying to go about their normal activities keeping the flocks safe from wild animals and their own tendency to wander off when suddenly the skies are full of angels singing. They have a message for the shepherds and as a result the shepherds leave the flocks behind and go to look for the baby. Chaos.
In fact everything was chaos. Except that none of it was. In Genesis, God promised that one of Eve’s descendants would conquer the powers of evil. To Abraham, God promised a covenant with his descendants, that He would be their God. Through Moses, God promised to raise up another prophet that would speak His words to the people. Through Isaiah God promised that a servant would come who would suffer for the sins of God’s people and bring victory to them. Through Ezekiel he promised that He would give people a new heart and a new beginning. Through Jeremiah He promised a shepherd that would care for His people, Israel. Through Isaiah He promised that one of David’s descendants would reign with justice. Through Micah, He promised that this child would be born in David’s City, Bethlehem.
No chaos here but a plan being worked out through an ordinary couple who were extraordinarily willing to be obedient to God. No chaos here, but God’s plan and hope of salvation being worked out.
Getting ready for Christmas really should be about us preparing room in our hearts to receive Jesus afresh and to be willing to be obedient to His plan for our lives. God has great plans for us all. He has called us as disciples to be His missionaries in this place. We have just passed the 199th anniversary of the founding of this church. In 2019 we will celebrate 200 years of the life and witness of God’s people who make up this church.
To mark this occasion a number of activities will be taking place culminating in that anniversary on the 23rd and 24th November 2019. These will include a variety of events which we will be advertising in the New Year. There will be a fund for mission events and the possibility of a trip to visit our partners in Rwanda. We felt it was right to choose a verse for us as a Church for this year and it is from Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Yours in Christ,