Mat 1:18-24 This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. (19) Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. (20) While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. (21) She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins." (22) Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, (23) "A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel" (which means, "God is with us"). (24) So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.
So here’s the thing
Christmas celebrations will come and go
and things will not get done
and the tree if you have one will probably not
look as you expected it might
and maybe that relative will turn up you were hoping wouldn’t
but amongst it all there will hopefully
be some kind of joy
and even heavenly peace.
And some where time to stop and reflect and escape and
wonder what it’s all about.
Joseph’s world is shocked by his fiancé’s pregnancy
but into his confusion
came the Voice and the promise of God.
All will be well.
So come with me into a story, our story of Christmas.
Let us Pray
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
Christmas was coming
and it would be busy and hot and muggy
and she was tired
and he was tired
from the strangest of years now drawing to a close.
But the holidays were coming and maybe then it would be still
and quiet and there would be time again.
Such a pity that Christmas and the holidays came at the same time.
He heard it as he walked through the busy streets.
She heard it.
One day, busy Christmas shopping, caught unawares,
words she remembered she had sung as a child;
words he had heard his mother sing:
“Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels
“Come let us adore Him Christ the Lord”
So out of place now that he was older.
Yet, how strange it was,
as suddenly these words touched something deep inside
some place within
some memory forgotten until this moment.
Almost as if some unseen hand had reached deep within and touched
some place of longing.
And a reminder of a King born
and a baby in a manger
and shepherd and angels.
Tears had begun to well up in her eyes.
Was it simply the busyness of the time?
Was it the grief of this crazy lockdown and uncertainty?
Was it that there was still so much to do
before Christmas day?
Or, was it something else.
Something she didn’t quite understand
almost as though something,
some tender spot deep within her, had been touched.
As again in the street she heard other words:
“Away in a Manger—no crib for a bed”
And then her mind shifted back to busyness
the child tugging at her sleeve
the queue in the supermarket
the traffic clogging her way home
and the heat.
All she had to do;
all that was expected of her;
And the Words of the Carol were hushed.
The words died in his mind as he thought of
Bethlehem—the land of Judah
and the factions
and the hatred
and the terrorists even now plotting
parents teaching children to hate.
Then he heard again—this time from deep within
words half forgotten
almost in answer to his thoughts:
“Yet—in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
And he thought of the child,
and the manger
and a message: “Peace on earth—good will from God to men.”
And then to his embarrassment a tear came.
And a longing deep within.
The traffic had now ground to a halt.
The Southern motorway had done its thing again.
Thankfully, her child was asleep
and the thought came to her -
“Maybe I can use this moment to rest—to be still
and she felt her body slowly release its tension.
Her eyes turned to the people
in the cars about her
and the words of an old Beatles song
came to mind:
Hey, look at all the lonely people
where do they all come from?
And then by some miracle of association
Paul McCartney’s voice was singing in her head:
“When I find myself in times of trouble
mother Mary comes to me—speaking words of wisdom
let it be.”
And she thought of Mary and a baby and manager.
And then a horn was tooting behind her
and the traffic was moving.
What had brought the tears to his eyes?
Was it the sadness of the conflict he had read in the newspapers?
Was it the hope of peace?
Was it that deep within there was a sense that
somehow, someway, the hurting had to stop
for his children’s sake at least.
And with it a longing for all men and women to live in peace?
His own family to live in peace!
To stop their silly bickering.
To understand each other for once.
To see his wife as she really was and needed to be seen
not as he expected.
Maybe peace had to begin in his own home
before it could ever come to Bethlehem.
What was it that made her so wistful?
Was it that she longed to be able to be spontaneous and herself?
To see her partner as he really was and understand him?
Understand her children, their longings and their dreams.
That night they talked—after the children had gone to bed.
They talked about the music they had heard that day in the busyness of the streets and their work.
And, after a long silence, he spoke of how tears had come
and she of why she had stopped and
bought a copy of the Beatle’s greatest hits.
And he said ‘I wish war would end.”
And she said: ‘I’ve been putting off telling you:
My families all arriving on Boxing Day.’
And he thought of war again—of tanks and bombers, in his living room!
And Christmas came, and the night before he had said:
Let’s go and sing carols, and let’s take the children.
And they did
And in the candle light
they listened to words that spoke of peace and hope and life.
And they sang:
O little town of Bethlehem. And he determined to cope with Joy with her family.
And they sang of Christ the Lord
and they sang Joy to the World the Lord has come.
That was all.
And Christmas Day was somehow softer.
And Boxing Day?
Boxing Day was quite different.
No, her family didn’t cancel their visit. Mind you he had contemplated praying for just such a miracle. But given the awakening within him, he wasn’t sure that such a prayer was appropriate.
But for some reason this Christmas he saw them differently.
He even tried to explain what had happened to him as he heard the Christmas Carols. And she played her Beatles Record and when Paul started singing
‘Let it be.”
invited all of them to stop and listen.
Christmas had come
with it’s message of peace and healing and hope.
A message they would take into the new year
and all it would bring.
God would take the unexpected and turn it into a miracle.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and glory, world without end. Amen
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