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Christmas Day Service Bearing this in mind, perhaps then, life should be lived

backwards
December 2010
I think that the life cycle is all backward.
Introduction You should die first and get it out of the way.
Then live twenty years in an old people’s home.
Christmas, it seems to me, seems to be very much about You get kicked out when you're too young.
childhood and children. I’m sure that the children here You get a gold watch, you go to work.
You work forty years
today would agree, but even if we’re no longer children, until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement.
the point still applies. Besides the fact that many of us You go to college;
have children and so spend a great deal of time, effort you party until you're ready for high school;
and money at time of year trying to ensure that they you go to primary school;
have the best possible time – thus keeping the world you become a little kid;
economy afloat – many of the activities and rituals that you play.
we ourselves enjoy at Christmas stem from our You have no responsibilities.
You become a little baby;
childhood memories. you go back into the womb;
you spend your last months floating;
and you finish up as a gleam in somebody's eye.

We were all children once…

Who’s Who baby pictures


I want to briefly about Jesus’ words recorded in Luke I. A sense of WONDER
18.17
15
Pears Soap advert and Jim’s essay for Giggleswick
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place School…
his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked
them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the
little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Children have a wonderfully vivid sense of imagination
kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, and at times, it seems, they will believe anything
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little
child will never enter it.” e.g. story about my first Christmas assembly in
Birkenhead.
Jesus is not saying here that all children are angels even
if they sometimes look like angels. He must have Is it a real one?
known what it was like to grow up as the oldest of
several brothers and sisters (cousins if you are a Roman Perhaps, you might say, children believe too much.
Catholic!). There are lots of things about children that Possibly. Looked at the other way around, however,
are not commendable e.g. impatience, tantrums, perhaps we adults believe too little. We want
squabbling, moodiness, boredom, lack of consistent everything to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, we
sleep patterns and a failure to co-operate. want all the angles covered and we want all the loose
ends tied up. Which is why so many people find it
However, there are also things which we can learn from difficult to follow Christ, the theme of this section in
them. Luke’s Gospel.
It’s not that there isn’t evidence for the Christian faith - II. A need for HELP
there is – and so people like Richard Dawkins who place
the Christmas story of a par with other well known A child passes on many stages on their way to
legends are being completely unreasonable and I think adulthood. That’s why being a parent can be such a
they know it. The point is that in life there are few if challenge! Just as you get to grips with one stage, your
any absolute certainties. All knowledge is only ever an kids move on to the next.
approximation and a provisional one at that.
POEM
c.f. John Henry Newman ‘A Grammar of Assent’
The children Jesus welcomes in this passage are small –
Perhaps, then, we need to be a little more childlike in little children (vv.16,17) – though that does not
our thinking this Christmas. Not suspend our critical necessarily mean ‘babies’ in spite of the NIV translation
faculties, but at least be more open minded, exercise our of v.15, for the same word is used in 2 Timothy 3.15 to
imaginations, allow the story to take root in our lives. describe someone who could understand what was being
read to them. What is in important is that, in the world
Quote The Pope of Jesus’ day, these were nobodies, those of low status.
Hence the disciples indignant reaction, literally ‘even
“God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises infants’ (Greek?) (Note by the way Jesus’ implicit
us in the way he fulfils them.”
rebuke of the disciples: there is a sermon on hospitality
here somewhere)

What is being emphasised here, then, is that those who


wish to enter the Kingdom of God, that is, live their
lives in the new way God intends, have to acknowledge
their dependent status. Or to put it another way, they
need to be able to receive.
This is a constant feature in the Gospel’s, particularly III. A load of TRUST
Luke
Children have an amazing capacity for trust. That is
c.f. Luke 1.50-55 why they have to be protected.
c.f. Publican and Pharisee
c.f. Rich Man and Jesus e.g. my nephew David who thought he was Superman
and so jumped out of a window.
As adults, many of us have learnt a false sense of
independence and so need to learn, once again, our need If TV has taught me anything, its that miracles always happen to
of others including God. Deep down all of us need what poor kids at Christmas. It has happened to Tiny Tim, it
Jesus Christ has to offer: happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and now
its gonna happen to us! Bart Simpson
- forgiveness
- direction Part of growing up is to learn not to be so gullible,
- strength learning to be independent. However, in the process our
capacity for love can be seriously diminished, for to
Perhaps that is why brokenness can lead to blessedness, receive – and to give – love, we have to open up our
because when we are broken we are not too proud to ask lives to others. The same is true of our capacity for God.
for the help of another. It is something most of us
dread, but something we maybe all of us need.

Where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in

c.f. the entrance to the Church of the Nativity


c.f. the open hand of faith

e.g. Ken Longman


An unwillingness to trust is another adult behaviour that Conclusion
has to be unlearnt for there is one word that God expects
all of His children to know (and to say), ‘Father’ (abba) Stewart Townsend

c.f. Jesus
c.f. Paul

This applies in good times and bad

The Good News of Christmas is that God is trustworthy.


He never renegades on His promises

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