Clergy Blogs

Periodic contributions from Revd. Giles King-Smith, Vicar of the three coastal parishes. We also continue to show contributions from the late Associate Minister Revd. Linda Walters
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3 minutes reading time (679 words)

Be born in us today

The other day, in the car, I tuned in to Radio 4, halfway through what sounded like an interesting discussion with a group of American citizens. I missed the presenter's opening question, but from the answers I heard, I assumed they'd been asked something like, "What would be your Christmas wish for your country?" It was clear that two of them came from opposite ends of the political spectrum and were highly unlikely to agree on anything. After they'd had their say, the presenter asked a third person, "What about you?", and he answered, in a tone that made me laugh, having listened to the other two - "Peace on earth!"     

It didn't sound like he expected peace to break out any time soon in the United States, but his choice of words certainly evoked the spirit of Christmas; in the words of a favourite carol, "Hush the noise, ye men of strife, / and hear the angels sing." Even though our world is far from peaceful, even though we joke about Christmas as a time when families struggle to co-exist peaceably, we recognize in the Christmas story the longing we all have for a time of innocence, of straightforward joy, of peace and goodwill amongst all peoples. We wish it were so, and we realise - when we are able to stop and listen to the story of the birth of Jesus, and to hear afresh the familiar words of the carols we sing - that this is God's purpose also: to bring peace, to see enemies reconciled, to enable all people to know themselves loved and to learn how to love one another.                                 

In Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, God chooses to lay aside the power and majesty of the Creator, and to become small, vulnerable, dependent. As you know, human babies are helpless for longer than pretty much any other creature: they can't do anything for themselves, apart from crying, eating ... and the other thing. (As an aside, we have had two small granddaughters staying for Christmas - four and a half months and seven weeks old, respectively - and I am so glad I made it clear a while ago that my nappy-changing days are over!) But my point is: if we believe that Jesus shows us a God who comes as a baby to share our human life - "little, weak and helpless", without any safeguards or provisos - then we have to re-think everything about how we imagine God, and therefore also everything about the way we use power. In Jesus Christ - and not only in his birth, but in everything else about him - we see a love that gives away all power, a love that has no interest in dominating or coercing. A love whose only aim is the welfare of the other - of all the others, whatever their politics, whatever their colour or age or gender, whatever their faith or lack of it, whatever their bank balance (or lack of it). The power of God is love, and nothing else.                             

And the invitation at Christmas is the same as ever: to allow the love of God to be born in us. In the words of St. Augustine, "What does it avail me, that this birth is always happening, if it does not happen in me?" There is a deep yearning in our hearts for peace, for harmony, for love to reign; and - while the way of love is never a quick fix, and often a hard slog - if we know we are walking the right path, with a light to cheer us in the darkness, then we will have joy, a joy no one can take from us. Wherever we are, whatever we are facing, we are invited to hear the angels sing, and to receive their promise of peace.




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