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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Christmas as revolution

A reminder as I move into this new year from a christmas sermon by Simon Barrow:

... the Christ who is born quietly, humbly, almost insignificantly on this Holy Night speaks first to ordinary people – like you and me. He begins his revolution by disturbing our certainty, giving us hearts of flesh rather than stone. Then he invites us to join a small company of friends who will go into the world’s darkest places, not with weapons of war and large corporations (as we have seen in the region of Jesus’ birth in recent years), but with something much more costly.

I am talking about simple but life-changing actions like forgiveness, hospitality, reconciliation, the sharing of goods, and human solidarity – what the Bible calls love of neighbour: treating the stranger and even the enemy as you yourself would wish to be treated. This is the way of the Prince of Peace whose coming we celebrate.

What is true of Christ’s challenge to the way we live, the way we relate to each other and the way we see things is also true of the way we understand faith and the way we perceive God. In an often bruised and hurting world, in the midst of the doubt and confusion we all feel, where is God to be found? Not in opulent palaces, not in remote splendour, not in complicated formulas – and not (if you read the gospels) with those who go around boasting about how ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ they are, either. That is some comfort to those of us who count ourselves neither especially smart nor notably righteous!

Instead, according to the topsy-turvy Good News announced to those shepherds, the ordinary working people of the time, God is to be found in the most unlikely of places: in a stable, off the beaten track, and in the vulnerable flesh of a baby born on the edge of empire, miles away from the rich and powerful. It is this Jesus, now lying in a cradle, soon mixing with the crowd, and eventually confronting one of the murderous crosses we have built in the world – it is his life which truthfully embodies who God is, what God is like, and what God’s agenda is about.
Cradling a Revolution

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