Glencairn Methodist Church
Before we move out of the Christmas Season and through Epiphany and on into 2009, it may be useful to reflect just a little more on the Christmas story.
Isn't it amazing just how many people God had to involve and to trust to get Jesus launched into the time he was to spend as a human? And the equally amazing ways in which God's messengers, the angels, spoke to the people concerned were either directly as in Luke's account, or in dreams as in Matthew's account. Whichever way it was, the messages got though. Zechariah and Elizabeth were chosen to be the middle aged parents of John the Baptist. Zechariah doubted the word of the angel and was given a sign - struck dumb for the duration of Elizabeth's pregnancy.
Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. At first she too doubted, but after reassurance from the angel she believed and accepted the trust God had placed in her. And Joseph! Well there is a hero if ever there was one! He had a lot to put up with and a great responsibility to bear. He had to accept the fact that Mary was pregnant by fiat of God. He was told not to divorce her (not even quietly) and to take her home as his wife. Then because of the census, Joseph had to organise the trip to Bethlehem and plead with the innkeeper for the use of the stable for Mary's confinement.
What joy this birth gave, first to the parents, and then to the host of angels, and to the shepherds who were the first to hear the news and the first to come and worship the Christ child.
And they weren't the only visitors the baby had. Magi from the East, following the Star, came to worship bringing prophetic gifts. Unfortunately but understandably, they alerted the villainous Herod to the arrival of a potential rival to his throne. As a consequence, the messages from God were for the Magi to go home a different way and for Joseph to take his small family and to flee to Egypt. More travel arrangements for this man to make! And just in time, because Herod's men came to kill all the young boys in Bethlehem. Later were to come messages from God to Joseph when it was safe to return to the Holy Land, but to Nazareth and not Bethlehem.
Could God not have prevented the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem? Of course he could, Herod could easily have had a massive coronary! But God choose not to, because once he had given mankind free will, he then had to allow men to exercise their ability to choose, even though it meant that people like Herod and Hitler and many other evil tyrants throughout history and even today could kill and maim and enslave people.
But God did enough to ensure the safely of the baby who would grow to be the saviour of the world through his premature death on a cross at the hands of evil, power-hungry men, and through his resurrection and ascension back to heaven.
Is God speaking to you at the start of this New Year? What is he asking you to do for him?
"Happy New Year to all our readers", as they say!
2 January 2009
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm