Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Christmas Comfort?

James Donovan: Aren't you worried?
Rudolf Abel: Would it help?

From Stephen Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies".

Do you ever wonder what this season is all about?

Hearing of the conditions in Cumbria this weekend left me chilled to the bone as I proceeded to see, again, images of vast swathes of the country deluged and people struggling to hold on to their homes and lives amidst the trauma.

And then came Monday morning, and the news that I'm facing redundancy at work - the third occasion of this in a decade.

Christmas can often appear somewhat detached from such events, especially as people revel in the delight of good times and good company amidst warmth and cheer.

That's until we recall the first Christmas.
Matthew records how there was a slaughter of innocents. Luke describes a birth amidst hardship and squalor in a place far from home, as well as Shepherds terrified as heaven literally burst into the skies above them.

Unsettling times, surrounding the one who came to bring us peace.

It can be really hard to find peace most of the time in our world, especially when circumstances make us want to worry about security, comfort and aid, but Jesus comes to say that above and beyond such issues (and the struggle to keep them), there is actually something more important - the peace that He brings.

This life is brief, but the splendor it speaks about is really what counts, and that is often where Jesus points us.  Consider the array of the lillies, He says, and how none of even our best finery even comes close to what we see here, in creation. If God, he asks, so adorns something that's here and then gone, then what about you? Why do we spend so much time troubled about things that are momentary. No doubt, so often, because we often find them truly unsettling, as they often are, but there's more to see. Life's real splendor, He's saying, should cause us to look further, delve deeper, into what's really going on amidst all the tragedy and triumph. If we don't understand that, then it all just becomes a series of unrelated and irrelevant events, topped with futility and death, but Jesus wants us to invest it all in the surety of God's immediate and present life and purpose. That's where real peace and comfort lye.

The Christmas nativity affirms the vital relevance of the name given to Jesus - Immanuel (God with us). That's what really counts, and it means, as we come to another Christmas, we can begin to see something wonderful at the heart of our time here.

God is with us, to deliver us and make these checkered days vital and valuable.

Truly, then, there are tidings of joy, even amidst the pain.

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