It’ll soon be here… the big day is upon us!!

How many shopping days are there to go?

These are just some of the phrases I’m sure we’ll hear in the next couple of weeks. The excitement grows and grows as the big day approaches. Some people are super organised, some leave it all to the last minute. (I leave it all to Nikki!!!!! Only Joking)

Christmas can though, if were not careful, become a very stressful time of year. A time of rushing around, panic buying and generally being swept along with the huge wave that is the secular (or commercial) side of Christmas. I’m sure many of us can relate to that, you may even be feeling yourselves sliding into that rhythm as you read.

It’s all a far cry from the sleepy town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. There was no Coca-Cola advert with a big red lorry to welcome in the Christmas season. Jingle Bells wasn’t playing on the juke box at the local Inn and the shops weren’t jam packed with shoppers picking up last minute bits and bobs.

BUT – it was crowded, the local market traders were certainly making a roaring trade and the Inns were full. There would certainly have been an atmosphere in the narrow Bethlehem streets. The Roman census would ensure that the streets remained crowded.

And it’s into this scene of everyday life, this scene of hustle and bustle, noise and mess that a tiny baby would be born. A tiny baby that would change the entire world! Into the ordinary, the extra-ordinary exploded!

There were thousands of people there that night, and most of them probably didn’t have a clue! Most of them didn’t bat an eyelid. Too many other things to do, too busy getting on with life!

But out on the hills, sitting quietly, alone in the darkness, the shepherds lives were about to change forever. The host of Angels that appeared to them told them the news. The saviour had been born. And it was these lowly men, outsiders, living out in the hills, smelly and dirty that would be the first to see the Saviour.

We know the story so well don’t we!

But I wonder, are we like the thousands there that night? Are we too busy, rushing round like headless chickens that we miss the point?  Are we so engrossed in making sure that we’ve got everything we need to feed an army, we’ve bought presents for everyone, that we forget what it’s all about? We lose sight of the miracle before our eyes.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Shepherds were the ones the Angels appeared to, they were the ones sitting quietly! Perhaps this Christmas we can take our cue from them. Maybe we can try and find time among the festivities to sit quietly and embrace the true meaning of Christmas, ‘Immanuel’ – God with us. That is the true gift of Christmas, God’s presence with us, that we can know him and have a relationship with him.

And let’s remember that it was into the ordinary that Jesus came. It was into the world, with all its mess and sin, that Jesus came. It was just an ordinary day, but there was nothing ordinary about what would unfold. Maybe this Christmas its time that you allowed the extra-ordinary to change your world. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room for him. The world didn’t want to know. What about you? This Christmas can you make room for him in your heart? Can and you ask him into your life, one thing is guaranteed – there is no greater Christmas present.

I’m reminded of the words from one of my favourite carols;

‘What can I give him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.

If I were a wise man, I would play my part,

Yet what, I can, I give him, give my heart’

Can I encourage you to come along to our Christmas services and why not invite a friend to join you? There are many ways in which we can worship and give thanks this Christmas. I hope that you along with family, friends and neighbours may be able to join us in celebrating the greatest event in history.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

Ian

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