Monday, November 21, 2011

Luke 2: 1-7

We will soon be in the season of Advent, a time for quiet reflection and preparation for Christmas.

Well, that's the theory!

In practice, this is the busyest time of year for many people - especially those who put on red costumes, and play the part of Father Christmas. I read recently that a shop manager had sacked Father Christmas, because he was wearing trainers. The manager said that he wanted his grotto to be neat and tidy, and provide a pleasurable experience.

Perhaps some people wish the churches would tidy up their Christmas scene, the Crib. The baby should have a proper cot, not an animals’ feeding trough. The walls should be draught-proof. The family should have their own room, not shared with cows and sheep.

But to tidy up that scene would be to take away its meaning. Jesus was born in a messy, bleak environment. He DID live in a chaotic, confused world. And the discomfort of his birth was nothing compared with the agony of his dying.

The point of the Crib is to remind us that when God chose to come and be part of our lives, he did so in a manner that showed us he didn’t expect VIP treatment. He came to be part of human experience at its toughest and most demanding.

This gives us a reassurance that lasts well beyond Christmas. Few of us have lives which go to plan and leave us untroubled. The fact that Jesus experienced the same kind of messiness that we do, gives us confidence that when we seek God’s support in dealing with our troubles, he knows what we’re on about.

Magically tidying it all up is not usually what he does, but the Crib guarantees that he will be with us in our confusion, and help us through it.