Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Sin had slithered …

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;  he will crush your head,  and you will strike his heel.”

Gen 3:15

Sin had slithered in

and God living harmony

destroyed.

Life and love became terminal.

Hope less.

 

Through the human

silence of the guilty

in the garden

the Word spoke again.

 

Sin and love

declared enemies.

One must go.

 

An enemy crushed.

A head abolished

forever.

 

The cost:

The Godman would come

From the broken

Mother of the living.

A divine son slain.

A Word crucified

so that love

and harmony

will rise and rule again.

 

 

Pieter Stok

 

 

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Has Jesus left the Church?

I have deliberately made the title vague. It can be taken in a number of ways.

I have just been observing the lead up to Christmas and Christmas itself in Europe. In some places like Seville there was a Christmas market which only sold items for nativity sets. In another few markets I could have bought gloves, scarves and solar panels to do me for a few lifetimes. There has been a mixture of the sacred and secular. All in all, the secular wins.

But Christmas is only a microcosm of society’s attitude to faith and religion in general. So little of the Christ of Christmas remains but that is true of life in general.

So has Christ left the church, in the sense that even the church has left the Christ of Christmas tucked away in some small corner? We sing the carols, attend church for the one time in the year but they are empty tokens. How many sermons were preached this Christmas that declared a radical Christ who introduced a new kingdom through his own death and resurrection? How many sermons declared Christ’s own words, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” That politically incorrect statement comes from the Messiah and is unpopular in many churches today. The cute baby in in a feed trough is easier to speak about and certainly less confronting.

But there is an even scarier perspective. Christ withdrawing himself, not unlike the Shekinah leaving the temple in Ezekiel. Christ leaving because the people who bear his name do do so thoughtlessly. I know he says in Matt 28 that he will be with his disciples to the end of the age but that was on the basis of their continued faith (not perfection).

The radical Christ, the counter cultural Christ, the Christ of a new and everlasting kingdom, the Christ who purchased the lives of his people on the cross and is now preparing a place in eternity for them, the Christ who dwells in his people through the Holy Spirit, the Christ who fought injustice and prejudice, the Christ who tells us that this life is only a brief pilgrimage … He is so hard to find in many churches and many western lives. Alas in my own life.

Has Jesus left the church? Only if we, his representatives on earth, have left him. In our syncretititic and politically correct age we need need to have the courage of the one who gave us his name to stand up to the culture and attitudes of our age and reveal how amazing his message really is. This Christmas have we been overawed and amazed that God became one of us because He loved us so much? Have we been humbled by his claim on our lives? Are we rejoicing in the revelation of His kingdom?

 

A nativity scene in a side chapel at Caen Cathedral

  

Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Faith | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

The Tragedy of Christmas

We have been watching the build up to Christmas in Europe. Our first sighting, apart from the supermarkets, came in Seville in Spain where there were stalls selling items for your own individual nativity scene, not just with the usual characters but a whole host of buildings, bridges, windmills, wells and etc. The Christmas markets in Northern Europe have been more intent on selling stuff – socks to solar panels.
The same sound track seems to play in all the malls. Riding together in with sleigh bells and ” Santa Baby”. The U.K. has an added history of awful Christmas hits that must played.
Christmas cards and tree ornaments have appeared, then the trees arrived and now the prices are being reduced as we get closer to the day. In Holland the Oliebollen kraams appear and my heart flutters. Even the boats in Harlingen are festooned with lights.
In the midst of the Santas, reindeers and fake snow we have observed some beautiful nativity scenes. One cathedral had set aside a side chapel and created a beautiful life sized nativity. The Notre Dame in Paris has a strange tall well lit model building with the Holy family in the middle. What it signified remains a total mystery to me. In Dordrecht there was a confused looking “Mary” wandering about a pen of animals holding a baby in a “this Christmas market is taking far too long” manner.
If I arrived from outer space knowing little about planet earth what impression would I get? I would be in no doubt about it being holiday, food and family time. However, the idea that Christians were celebrating the incarnation of their God who would die on the cross to restore His people with their eternal father is lost in the dross. I like food and holidays and even family, but the tragedy is that the heart of the season is missing. I may be mistaken but it seems that every year a bit more of the heart goes missing.

   
 

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Christmas Gloom?

The following is a guest blog from my wife, who like usual, doesn’t beat around the bush. She explores some of her feelings about how we as a society celebrate Christmas.

This Christmas time I have a profound sense of gloom regarding the Message of Christmas. Particularly, the proclamation of it.

Perhaps it is because, for the first time in many years, I haven’t told a child (or several hundred children) the story of Jesus’ birth. Or it could be because I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a new home for my huge stash of nativity costumes and props. Nobody does Nativity plays with the Sunday school kids anymore.

Or maybe it was friends telling me about their church’s children’s service, or the friends and neighbours’ Christmas service- all taking place weeks, if not more than a month before the 25th of December.

Or the depressing trips to the shopping malls, where I hear lots of Carols proclaiming the Good News, but nobody’s listening. It has just become seasonal background noise.

So what will the Church of our Messiah, who was born at Christmas, be doing on Christmas morning?

Celebrating? Families will unwrapping presents, stressing about food preparation, and steeling themselves for that afternoon they must spend with relatives they don’t like. Children will be overwhelmed by gifts that will be broken or discarded by the end of the year.

Worshipping? Most churches have a service. It’s earlier, shorter, and attended by the few poor souls who don’t have pressing family commitments. Where possible, the senior pastor has given the job of delivering the message to the idiot who first asked “Are we having a service on Christmas Day?” Nobody stays for coffee afterwards, because everyone needs to be somewhere else.

Ignoring the whole thing? Yep, there are plenty of Christians who shun Christmas altogether. The anti-Christmas brigade, I call them.

In my ideal world I would have Jesus’ Church celebrate His birth on the day that history has recognised for centuries. Whether it is the exact day or not is irrelevant.

Children, in full costume, would tell the story before a packed house; choirs would sing carols; pastors preach their best sermon; the choicest and sweetest treats shared for morning tea, over which people would linger until it became lunch.

This day would be eagerly anticipated and planned for months.

And the world would know what is most special for Christians at Christmas.

 

 

 

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