Make space for Jesus this Christmas
19 December 2014
- Listen to the Christmas Message as a podcast here
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference
have urged people to make space in their homes and lives for Jesus
In their Christmas message, the Revd Ken Howcroft and Ms Gill
Dascombe ask people to consider what kind of dinner guest Jesus
The full text of the message follows:
Make space for Jesus. What would it be like to leave a place for
him at the table for the Christmas meal? To open the door and
welcome him in to "our" Christmas, in our homes, our churches and
the world around us (just like Jewish people often leave a cup and
open the door to Elijah at a Passover meal)? Would he rush in and
lift our spirits, the life and soul of the party? Or slip in
quietly, warm and gentle, meek and mild, like a kindly uncle?
Or would he come in as a guest and then take over as the host, as
he did with the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus in the
aftermath of his crucifixion and resurrection? For it is not "our"
Christmas, but his. And he tends to come in unexpected ways, and
therefore often unrecognised, the extraordinary appearing in the
ordinary, a flicker of light that is often overlooked.
"Longing for light, we wait in darkness", as the hymn by
Bernadette Farrell puts it. A world in which people are forced to
move on from place to place. A world in which people try
desperately to get to safer and better places for themselves and
their families in leaking and sinking boats across the
Mediterranean; or flee as refugees from persecution or oppression
in places like Iraq and Syria. Just like Mary and Joseph who were
forced to go and be registered in a distant place. Just like,
later, they had to flee with their child from the power of Herod
and go to Egypt.
Some people wait in the darkness of their own lives. Grief, pain
and sorrow. Broken relationships, hopes and prospects. People
excluded, marginalised or stigmatised - sometimes because of mental
illness that is beyond their control. Christmas can be a hard time
for those who are lonely or down.
Yet to each of these situations, Christ comes like he did in the
birth which we celebrate. Unlooked for, or searched for, or longed
for or prayed for, he comes. Not tearing the skies apart. Not as a
mighty alpha-plus person. Not as an alien being. But as a tiny
baby, born into poverty and need, human, vulnerable and
God comes to the heart of our human experience in Jesus. The
divinity of Christ is clothed with our humanity so that our
humanity can be clothed in his divinity. As Charles Wesley
"Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!"
So make space for Jesus this Christmas. Look for him in the
ordinary things, the light in the darkness that the darkness has
never managed to extinguish. Celebrate him there. Respond to him
there. Become like him. Let the light of his love show through the
way you treat others.
May our lives and our churches be places of true joy and peace
this Christmas time. May the grace that came into the world that
first Christmas fill us and connect us together.
The blessing of God be with us all this Christmas time and
throughout the coming year.