13 November 2014

Christmas Is Coming...

Oh yes. All of a sudden, it's November! Everyone starts getting focused on Advent. All roads now lead inevitably to the festive season... for instance:

We're now practicing Christmas songs and carols in our Singers group.
I've received my tickets for the first Carol Service of the season.
At work we are now planning 'Christmas Jumper Day'
This coming Saturday is the Corps' Christmas Fayre (10am - 2pm, come along, lots on offer!)

Everything is busy, busy, busy.

And yet, there still hasn't been time to think about my own Christmas! About gifts for my own family, what we are going to be doing on Christmas Day (I mean, after church and before Doctor Who)...

So does that mean that I've forgotten the real message of the season? Am I so wrapped up in tinsel and sentiment, turkey and all the trimmings, the fairy-tale imagery of Christmas, that I have forgotten my faith?

Do I have room for the real Christmas story?

It's the story of Mary and Joseph, a young couple who had set up home in Nazareth, miles away from their family. Mary was heavily pregnant and her delivery was just around the corner. Suddenly, news reached them that the vagaries of local government had dictated that they had to travel to their home town for a census, a precursor for more taxes.

The couple both hailed from Bethlehem, so that meant a 90-mile journey across rugged terrain. Even if you assume they travelled an average of 20 miles a day, that's still a five day trip, with no possibility of shelter at night, and with threats of attack by animals or robbers. Not a good prospect for anyone, let alone a mum-to-be who is just about to deliver...

By the time they arrived in town, all of the accommodation was taken - there wasn't a room to be had anywhere. And so, Mary had to give birth in less than perfect surroundings. The squalour of a borrowed stable.

And yet - this child was destined to be the Saviour of the World!

Is this the way that the King of Kings should have started life? Surely He could have been born in an elegant mansion. And if you were planning the birth of a Messiah, would you have subjected Him to such an entry into the world?

But this is the way God planned it - and planned it to the slightest detail. For instance, Scripture had always said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2 - the book of Micah was written about 700 years before the birth). So that's what Mary and Joseph had to do. They had to go to Bethlehem.

Take time to plan now. Where are you going to spend Christmas?

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