Thinking about the meaning of Christmas now it’s almost here…
For a few years now my local church has been co-ordinating a free gift-wrapping service in the local shopping centre in the run-up to Christmas on behalf of a number of churches in the town.
One of my work-colleagues, who spent some voluntary time there this week was commenting today on how often people assume that the gift-wrapping service is a charity fund-raising activity and want to donate some money. They seem quite taken aback when told that no money is being collected. Apparently the thought that someone would do something for them, something even as small as helping to wrap their Christmas gifts, for nothing is really difficult for them to understand.
Our vicar, Eric Delve, observed that media adverts telling you that their product is, “…too good to share” or encouraging you to buy it, “…because you’re worth it” can have the subtle effect of reinforcing a selfish world-view. It seems that for many people, even at this time of year, a primary motivator is still the old question, “what’s in it for me?”
At Christmas time we remember and celebrate an event that demonstrated a completely different, self-less, approach to life;
God stepping down out of heaven and choosing to limit himself to the potential of a human body – a helpless human baby no less – and start out on a brief life-journey on earth. A journey during which he would demonstrate to us the potential of a human being living life in tune with God’s Spirit. A journey that would lead to the most painful death imaginable to make it possible for us to live the same kind of Spirit-tuned life he had. A journey that, amazingly, would then continue with a resurrection – demonstrating God’s ultimate power over death. A journey that would lead Him to return to heaven, triumphant and with a promise that He would prepare a place for us there.
Suppose you could travel back in time and meet Him one day whilst he was on that earthly journey. Suppose you stopped Him in the middle of a crowded street one day and spoke to Him. Suppose you asked him, “why did you give up so much and limit yourself in this way? why are you prepared to die in nerve-shredding agony? why would you do such a thing?”
I think He might pause, look deep into your eyes for a few moments – long enough that you’d realise that he knew everything about you; the good …and the bad, the joy …and the pain, the pride …and the shame – and then, glancing around with a gesture that encompassed not only you but the whole world at the same time, I think he’d say softly, “…because you’re worth it”