The Word on the Week

Home for Christmas

The severe weather which closed the airport caused major travelling disruption. Passengers were sleeping in Airports across Europe with runways closed and nowhere to go. The weather replaced the economy as the chief topic on the news with expert opinion being sought from an apologetic met office, caught on the wrong foot! “Home for Christmas” became something of a mantra. People, like confused lemmings, were migrating in great numbers in every direction. They all had this one thing in common; they wanted to get home for Christmas. The more it seemed unlikely the greater the efforts of the airlines and ferries efforts to make it happen. Christmas at home was never so desirable as when it seemed unattainable! So what awaited the travellers in this mass migration? What made Christmas so special as to throw money at airlines to get home for Christmas? Was it the delights of a family reunion? Perhaps the thought of the presents about to be exchanged or the turkey or the plum pudding or the drink? Or even the “crashing out” in front of the “telly” with stomachs distended from one mince pie too many! Whatever the attraction it is unlikely to have much to do with the climactic event which took place in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. References to the Christ child may appear in the traditional Christmas cards and a few may even quote scripture but the magnitude of the event has been eroded by our disbelief. Even when taught to the children the coming of Christ is gazumped by Santa Claus who now reigns supreme. So what does the Bible have to say about all this? Well there was a journey – from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It was arduous and Bethlehem was full of people – probably some sleeping rough. Accommodation for the young couple was eventually found in a stable where the Saviour was born. The first visitors were shepherds, tough folk who wouldn’t have been put off by the angels directing them to a stable. They believed the message and were the first to meet Jesus. Later when the family went up to Jerusalem to observe the purification rites they met two other believers, Simeon and Anna, elderly folk who were anticipating the arrival of the Lord’s Christ. The Magi came later and then came the flight to Egypt for safety. Not a very auspicious start to a ministry whose followers now are to be found in almost every nation on earth. Never the less it’s a birth which triggers the sometimes frantic scramble to be “home for Christmas”. And among those who find their way into churches there will be the Simeon’s and Anna’s of today, men and women who recognise the powerful love of God in Christ and the life transforming impact His love has on all who will receive it. His initial rejection was predicted as was today’s faithful family of believers. As Saint John put it in chapter 1 verses 11 to 13, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”