We were about 100 in St Swithun’s Martyr Worthy for our family Christmas Day communion.
Revd. Alex Pease gave the following talk:
I just love Christmas
Since my earliest days I can remember the excitement of Christmas Day of waking up to find a stocking full of presents on the end of my bed; and then of course church in the morning; the wonderful food at lunch and all our relations coming.
And even more presents after lunch. So incredibly exciting…
I just love Christmas
And I have to say I love presents.
I am not one for opening them carefully I tend to rip them open, much to Lucy’s consternation, who likes to keep the paper for next year.
And generally the presents are something that I want….
But what would happen, if we gave people presents that they need…. rather than want
Hand out wrapped presents:
‘How to live without your mobile phone for more than an hour: Yes you can do it!’
‘DIY for dummies; for those of you struggling with the simplest of jobs that you put off for months on end – this is the book for you’
‘Learn to help without being asked – learn the impossible in 5 easy steps – this book is aimed at this who are struggling with this simple skill’
‘Beginners cookery book – are your family fed up with your dreadful cooking? This is the book aimed for you – burned food will soon be a thing of the past’
These are the sort of presents that that you might think mean that the person giving them doesn’t love you at all…
But what happens if you are miserable because of the whats app and texts that you are getting on your phone? What if it has become a slavery, being constantly connected with your friends?
What if If you do need to be pushed a bit to help at home or what if to help with the cooking or sort out the DIY would transform your marriage?
What if you could recognise the TRUTH of what the present implies,recognise your failures, your weak points and you are given the one book which has 100% success rate in solving the problem, which revolutionises your life and removes this problem for ever?
Wouldn’t you look back on that Christmas with great fondness and always remember that that is when the transformation of your life happened?
Wouldn’t you remember the person who had given that present as the closest of your friends?
Because this is what Christmas is about!
We give gifts to each other because God gave the gift of himself to us on Christmas morning.
He gave us the opportunity to transform our lives, to receive joy and peace regardless of our circumstances. He gave us the solution to our sin…
Sin has got a bit of a bad name recently – it tends to be thought of as a bit of naughtiness, being a bit of a rogue. All very amusing.
Whereas, in fact, it is so serious, such a disaster for each of us.
It is the cause of our misery in God’s beautiful world; our slavery to things and behaviours which should bring us joy and our feeling of pointlessness.
Sin is behaving (or even thinking) in a way which suggests that we regard ourselves as god rather than him; that we alone can and should determine how we live our lives, without any reference to him.
Some gifts are hard to receive, because like the books on mobile phones DIY and cooking, to receive that gift is to admit that we have flaws and weaknesses.
But there has never been a gift which makes us swallow our pride to the depths that Jesus Christ requires us to do. Because Christmas means (in the words of the New York preacher Tim Keller) ‘that we are SO lost, so unable to save ourselves that nothing less than the death of the Son of God himself could save us’
That the situation was so serious that the Creator of the universe (because he loves us and wants us to have the lives both now and in eternity that he had planned for us); that he had to come and be born in a stable in poverty and some disgrace and ultimately to be crucified in agony, so that we could, by opening our hearts to him and repenting of those sins, put ourselves back on track with God, so that our sins could be forgiven….
The final present one for everyone; the Bible
The Bible tells us this truth: that Jesus died for our sinfulness.
This may be a present that we don’t want to receive we may say or think ‘well I am not a sinner’.
It may be a present we don’t want to receive but it is a present which is given by someone who loves us and wants the best for us and if we accept it our lives and those of our families will be transformed