Minister's Message

Christmas Message 2016

So ... it's Christmas once again! Yet another year is drawing to a close and we're already being assailed by carols and festive things in the shops. Preparations are underway for services, concerts and nights out. Children are getting excited, placing their orders and counting down the days. All the while, somewhere in the background, is the story of the Nativity. It's a great story with a wonderful message, but we've been here before and we've heard it many times.  Christmas?  Bah, humbug!?Familiarity breeds contempt or, at least, that's how the saying goes. The idea is that once we know someone or something very well we inevitably start to lose the sense of regard or respect we might have had previously. At first an event might have been exciting, astonishing, or disturbing; a person might have seemed rather impressive or been wonderfully attractive; we might have found a new object intriguing or great fun. But after a while, once we've become accustomed to them, they begin to lose their original impact. We get used to them, take them for granted and our initial enthusiasm wanes.
Perhaps in some cases this is natural; possibly sometimes even a good thing. Nevertheless, we are left with a question. Is it actually 'familiarity' which causes contempt? Or is it perhaps something else? Attitudes and feelings will no doubt change and adapt over time, yet there is nothing automatic about contempt. There are plenty of instances where familiarity may in fact pave the way for greater appreciation, profounder gratitude or deeper love. Does God, who is intimately acquainted with each of us and all our ways, become contemptuous over time?
Perhaps instead we should look for the source of contempt in a loss of gratitude or respect or in a loss of openness. For example, sometimes we can have an over-confidence in what we think we know or we can develop a fixed view of things, no longer receptive to a fresh perspective.
Contempt, of course, is a strong word and perhaps it's not the best term to use of people's attitudes to Christmas. Nevertheless, when we've heard the story so many times before, it's easy to become a little complacent about it all. Our familiarity with it can sometimes result in a loss of wonder. Yet, the significance of the Son of God taking human flesh and entering out troubled world is truly enormous. Although the events themselves are expressed in familiar terms, they still explode with reports of the supernatural – angels, dreams and people filled with the Holy Spirit. It's a story of ordinary and humble people receptive to a mighty God.
Dear Lord, no matter how many times we've heard the story, please speak anew to our hearts and minds this Christmas. Please meet with us once more and awaken us again in a sense of wonder.
Every blessing
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