Some years ago now I was at a party after a Baptism. I say ‘some years ago’ – it was actually 30 years because the Baptism I am thinking about was our daughter Alison’s! The memory of the occasion has stayed with me all these years for a painfully embarrassing reason. We had invited people back to our house and it was at a time when I was on antihistamines and had been for some years because of a nasal problem. Back home everybody was enjoying themselves but the capsules tended to make me drowsy and Joy has this memory of me nursing Alison and both of us were fast asleep on the settee. Afterwards she realised it was the effects of my medication, but at the time it was probably not the best thing for the host to do!
I mention this story not because of what happened to me but rather to point out the fact that the person in whose honour this social occasion was taking place was fast asleep rather than the centre of attention, and that is often how it must seem at Christmas time amidst all the festivities that are taking place. When many people may be having a good time in their own kind of way, the one whose birthday is actually being celebrated is also often left on the side lines. I sometimes wonder what Jesus thinks about it all. Does He feel like shouting, “Hey! It’s my birthday! Shouldn’t you invite me to the party?” We couldn’t blame Him if He did!
So as I write this letter approaching the start of December and the build-up to Christmas, think of this. The birth of Jesus was at a time when a lot of people were demonstrating they had many other priorities in their lives besides God, so He would have to be satisfied with a back seat. There was much that appeared to be wrong on the world stage. Many had turned their backs on God and forgotten Him. But in the birth of Jesus, God showed that though others may have forgotten Him, He had not forgotten them. People may have stopped loving Him with the depth of commitment that He hoped for, but He would never stop loving them. St John says that “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Perhaps when you read the earlier sentences of this paragraph you may have thought, “Sounds familiar!” Well, I would want to say to you that God still loves the world and remembers us and this Christmas time comes afresh to us and His world because of that love. So as you celebrate the season whatever way you will, spare a thought for the one whose time we’re celebrating and make Him a guest of honour in your party and your lives.
Wishing you every blessing for Christmas and the New Year,
With much love,
Your Minister and friend,