Make space for Jesus this Christmas

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The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conferencehave urged people to make space in their homes and lives for Jesusthis Christmas.

In their Christmas message, the Revd Ken Howcroft and Ms GillDascombe ask people to consider what kind of dinner guest Jesusmight be.

The full text of the message follows:

Make space for Jesus. What would it be like to leave a place forhim at the table for the Christmas meal? To open the door andwelcome him in to "our" Christmas, in our homes, our churches andthe world around us (just like Jewish people often leave a cup andopen the door to Elijah at a Passover meal)? Would he rush in andlift our spirits, the life and soul of the party? Or slip inquietly, 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, ashe did with the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus in theaftermath of his crucifixion and resurrection? For it is not "our"Christmas, but his. And he tends to come in unexpected ways, andtherefore often unrecognised, the extraordinary appearing in theordinary, a flicker of light that is often overlooked.

"Longing for light, we wait in darkness", as the hymn byBernadette Farrell puts it. A world in which people are forced tomove on from place to place. A world in which people trydesperately to get to safer and better places for themselves andtheir families in leaking and sinking boats across theMediterranean; or flee as refugees from persecution or oppressionin places like Iraq and Syria. Just like Mary and Joseph who wereforced to go and be registered in a distant place. Just like,later, they had to flee with their child from the power of Herodand go to Egypt.

Some people wait in the darkness of their own lives. Grief, painand sorrow. Broken relationships, hopes and prospects. Peopleexcluded, marginalised or stigmatised - sometimes because of mentalillness that is beyond their control. Christmas can be a hard timefor those who are lonely or down.

Yet to each of these situations, Christ comes like he did in thebirth which we celebrate. Unlooked for, or searched for, or longedfor or prayed for, he comes. Not tearing the skies apart. Not as amighty alpha-plus person. Not as an alien being. But as a tinybaby, born into poverty and need, human, vulnerable anddependent.

God comes to the heart of our human experience in Jesus. Thedivinity of Christ is clothed with our humanity so that ourhumanity can be clothed in his divinity. As Charles Wesleywrote:

"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 theordinary things, the light in the darkness that the darkness hasnever managed to extinguish. Celebrate him there. Respond to himthere. Become like him. Let the light of his love show through theway you treat others.

May our lives and our churches be places of true joy and peacethis Christmas time. May the grace that came into the world thatfirst Christmas fill us and connect us together.

The blessing of God be with us all this Christmas time andthroughout the coming year.