Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Eve

It is nearly time for the child to be born.

The birth of a child is always good news. In the bit of the world I come from – the Yorkshire/Lancashire border, there’s a poet who’s well known - Sam Laycock. In his poem ‘bonny brid’ – written about the birth of yet another child to a poor family during a time of famine in Lancashire, he manages to be realistic about how hard it is and yet strikes a positive note of good news at the birth of a child:

Tha’rt welcome, little bonny brid ,
But shouldn’t ha’ come just when tha did;
Toimes are bad.
We’re short o’ pobbies for eawr Joe,
But that, of course, tha didn’t know,
Did tha, lad?

Cheer up! These toimes ‘ll awter soon;
Aw’m beawn to beigh another spoon-
One for thee;-
An’, as tha’s sich a pratty face
Aw’ll let thi have eawr Charley’s place
On mi knee.

(For those who want to see more about the poem, there's a webpage here)

It is nearly time for the child to be born. And that birth is Good news.

It’s a night for good news. We’ve nearly got to Christmas day. Whatever isn’t done now – shopping, cleaning, delivering - will have to remain undone.
It is nearly time for the child to be born and for the world to rejoice.

And so we hear Isaiah promising a time of rejoicing, a time when the Lord God will come and live among his people.
It is nearly time for the child to be born – and that child is Christ the Lord – God among us at last.

But then we hear what John’s gospel has to say about the coming of what he calls ‘The Word’.
It is nearly time for the child to be born – and that child is the one who is not always recognised by the very world that he made. Yet John is clear “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

But just before that John says something even more amazing. He talks of children of God, born not through human desire and human will and human will, but by the will of God.

It is nearly time for the child to be born.
And some will say that that child is born because an angel told a virgin it would happen. And perhaps when you hear John speak of amazing birth, you might assume he’s speaking about the birth of Jesus himself.

But he isn’t – John is talking about the amazing truth that the gift of Jesus and his love makes it possible for all who believe in God’s love to become children of God – born by divine, not human means. John has nothing to say about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, he is talking about our birth – yours and mine. John says that we can be born as children of God, if we just believe in his adoptive love.

It is nearly time for the child to be born.
And that child is you.
God bless you with love this Christmas. Amen.

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