Advent Calendar Door #14 – Jesus is…part of a bigger story

Posted: December 14, 2015 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

To complete the set, today’s reflection is the (slightly edited) text of yesterday’s Family Carol Service at Left Bank. The first part is all about the Nativity story, and was accompanied by some fantastic crafting, and the second part led into some Christingle making and a beautiful procession,

The great thing about stories is that you don’t just hear them, you can also see them, and this video is a rather fun way of watching thing particular story.

 

Our story starts with a very unexpected visitor, as an angel appears to Mary and tells her that she is going to have a very special baby. Having a baby is exciting and scary all wrapped into one, because suddenly the future looks very different. You don’t know what colour eyes they will have, or what food they will like, or what they will most enjoy doing. Mary and Joseph must have thought about all of those things, but they must also have wondered how their baby would save his people or how he could be the Son of God, which is what the angel had told them. But even though they had lots of questions, they trusted God because they knew that he was good, and that if he had a plan for them, then it must be a brilliant one. So this bit of the story helps us to see that we can trust God too, even if things sometimes seem strange and confusing

And then we have an unexpected journey. Mary and Joseph didn’t have a nice comfy car to travel in, but they had to go a long way away because the emperor who was in charge of the land where they lived had told them they had to go back to where their family was originally from, so that he could count all the people who lived in that land.  It might seem that this was a bit of a hiccup in the plan, as it would have been much easier for Mary to stay at home and have her baby there, but hundreds of years earlier God had told one of his messengers that a special baby would be born in Bethlehem.  That means God knew or planned all along that Mary and Joseph would have to make that journey, so that Jesus being born in Bethlehem would be a sign that he was child that had been promised many years ago, who would eventually change things for the better. So this bit of the story reminds us that God knows what he’s doing even if we don’t.

The story only gets even more unexpected when Mary and Joseph arrive, as they can’t find a place to stay and so Jesus is born with the animals. Nobody would have thought to look for the Son of God in a stable, but even this was really important, because it tells us that God is even in the places we wouldn’t expect to find him, and it tells us that God knows what it feels like to have nowhere to go. So this bit of the story reminds us that God is everywhere and with everyone.

 

Babies get lots of visitors and so Mary and Joseph probably saw lots of friends and family who were also in Bethlehem, but the second half of our story tells us about two very special sets of visitors. First came the shepherds. Now shepherds weren’t obvious visitors for a king because they were poor and smelly and they didn’t have any gifts, but the angels went and told them that Jesus had been born and where they could find him, so God obviously really wanted them to go and see him, and I’m sure their excitement was enough of a present for God, and for Mary and Joseph too. So this bit of the story tells us that God wants to welcome everybody, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t think we’re good enough or if we’re empty handed.

And then came the wise men. They had travelled from a long way away, and even though they were the sort of visitors you would expect for a king, they were still a little unusual as they probably didn’t follow the same religion or keep the same laws as the people who God had been promising Jesus to for hundreds of years, and so they probably didn’t understand who he was in the same way that the shepherds did. They still recognised that Jesus was something special though, and they knew enough to follow the star, so I think God really wanted them there too. So this bit of the story tells us that it doesn’t matter to God where we are from or what we have believed or what we have done, he wants everyone to come to know him.

 

There have been lots of unexpected things in our story, and even though we hear the Christmas story every year it can still be surprising, which reminds us that God can still surprise us in many ways. And the best bit of this story is that we can get involved, through singing and acting and praying and crafting, just like the shepherds and the wise men did. You see, Christmas is all about God getting involved in our story, but it is also about us getting involved in the story of God.

I want you to imagine that I have a beautiful box all tied up with a bow, with four very special presents inside.

The first present is an orange, and this reminds me of the world, which was God’s first gift to us. The very first verse of the Bible says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, and lots of very clever people have come up with lots of very exciting ideas about how that happened, but the amazing thing is that God was at work in all of the atoms coming together to make planets and plants and people, which means he is super powerful.

The second present is some sweets and these make me think of all the things that make us happy, which are the gifts God still gives to us. James 1:17 says “every good and perfect thing is from above”, which means all the things we like were God’s idea, so he must have the most brilliant imagination and he must also be really generous.

The third present is a red ribbon, and red is the colour of love so this reminds me of God’s love, which is his greatest gift to us. John 3:16 says “God loved the world like this – he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but have eternal life”, which means he loves us so much that he will do everything he can to look after us.

And the fourth present is a candle, which makes me think of Jesus, who is God’s most precious gift to us. John 8:12 says that Jesus called himself the light of the world, which means he came to help us see when we get lost and feel less scared when things are dark.

 

Now if we put these gifts together, we can make a Christingle. But what does a Christingle have to do with Christmas? It might tell us lots of things about God, but what do they have to do with a baby in a manger? Well I think the Christingle tells us that Christmas is part of a bigger story.

The orange reminds us of the beginning of the story, because the first Christmas would never have happened if God hadn’t made the world to be a good place.

The sweets remind us of the reason for the story, because God sent Jesus so that he could bless us with good things like peace and joy.

The ribbon reminds us of the power behind the story, because everything God does is driven by his amazing incredible wonderful love for us.

The candle reminds us the end of the story, because Jesus grew up to be our light and to show us how to be a light to others, so that in the end the darkness will go completely and everything will be bright.

The Christingle may look like a funny little thing, but when we see one we might like to think of the Christmas story and the bigger story it is part of, which is the story of how God loves us and tries to make the world better.

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