Many churches will be scouring the Internet for an appropriate Christmas drama, hitting upon anyone in the congregation with creative ability to play a part in this year’s presentations, and dusting off Christmas decorations. Preachers will be dredging their imaginations for fresh angles on a well-known story, praying fervently that divine lightning will strike.
May they find themselves delving deeper into the Christmas event, telling more than a re-dressed story of God’s active, sovereign presence and his understanding love. The full story is so much better.
Christmas is Messiah time! It is about the coming of the Messiah and his global kingdom on Earth, which will one day be recreated and united with Heaven (Revelation 21:1-5). Certainly it is a personal rescue and a personal saving, but one more all-encompassing than bailing out the chosen and their assured welcome in the hereafter.
May our hope be that we receive afresh in all his fullness this extraordinary, exhilarating, slightly scary Messiah, the one who fulfils God’s promises, the one who alone meets our human longings and aspirations, the one who promises, and alone has the capacity to deliver, restoration on all levels personal, communal, political, economic and ecological.
As we welcome him, may our awareness of his unsurpassable greatness fire our minds, our hearts and our spirits in worship.
Of course the central, undeniable heart of Christ’s ministry is his enabling our reconciliation with God. But the Cross, while being the essential starting point and focal point, can be misused as a resting point. Rescue is at the centre of God’s revelation but it is followed by restoration and, ultimately, re-creation on a personal, corporate, global and cosmic scale.
Restored people are the building blocks of a restored Creation. They are called to be God’s active, Spirit-equipped collaborators in restoring every sphere of his created order. In this collaboration, which takes place in offices, factories, schools, farms, universities, businesses and homes wherever God’s people are, we find significance as our lives are caught up in Christ’s.
We find ourselves progressively transformed into the likeness of Jesus by his loving power working, not just in our lives, but through us to bless others. Church becomes the arena in which this new community gathers to worship and celebrate.
Like the shepherds in the fields, our response to God’s Christmas intrusion should be less one of familiar reassurance but a mixture of awe and excitement. If radical is to be understood in its right sense, then may we wish each other nothing less than a radically merry Christmas!
• Colin Day is a Chaplain at Massey University.