Church of England Diocese of Birmingham Frankley

Christmas Message 2020

27 Dec 2020, 5 a.m.

“Jesus is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being,” the writer of Hebrews tells us.

When we look at Jesus we see God and we see what God our Heavenly Father who we cannot see is like.

How we long to see something of God’s glory and evidence of his working among us in these scary times. We long to see him walking among us, touching and healing our sick, comforting the distraught, giving wisdom to our leaders, bringing new life to his creation.

We long, not just to see but to feel his love holding us, to know at the core of our being that everything is going to be alright in the end. We need not be afraid because Jesus is here with us. Our nearest and dearest may not be allowed to hug an hold us for fear of passing on the virus, but Jesus through the power of his Holy Spirit is able to draw near and hold us.

In Jesus we see someone who was both God and fully human. He knows what it is like to be born, live in poverty, suffer and die. His human family had much to be worried about and afraid of. They constantly needed to hear the voice of God made clear to them through angels and dreams. Their survival depended upon it.

In Jesus we see God becomes vulnerable. There is no one more tender and vulnerable than a new born baby. We celebrate Jesus becoming human flesh. The Word became flesh, John’s gospel says and made his dwelling, pitched his tent among us. The Message Bible writes he moved into the neighbourhood.

Jesus suffered homelessness, becoming a refugee, thirst, hunger, tiredness, pain, sickness and perhaps the worst slight of all, rejections by his brothers, sister, friends, his synagogue leaders and the leaders of the Jewish religion.

Finally he was to suffer the ignominy of death upon a cross, a slave’s death for the lowest of the low. He, like all those who have passed away through COVID 19 knows what it is like to die as a result of suffocation. He identifies with George Floyd who also died through suffocation and all those who suffer as a result of racism or any sort of discrimination.

Why enter history 2000 years ago in a backwater of the Roman Empire as a member of a subjugated race?

Why was being born as a baby important?

It was important because our lives matter to God. Only those who suffer and feel pain can empathise with us. Those who have had easy lives can sympathise but they cannot share in what we are going through.

By becoming flesh Jesus shares fully in our humanity. He identifies with us, has compassion and feels our pain.

What is true for God the Son is true also for God our Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Who would have thought that the almighty creator of the universe is vulnerable?

A frightening, remote, awesome God who has to be obeyed doesn’t win the hearts of people.

Only a God who we can relate to, one we can see, hear, touch and feel can win our hearts.

There is no one more loveable and helpless than a baby. Jesus entrusted himself to our love. God didn’t become less powerful because Jesus became flesh. He became more effective.

Only one who feels our pain and walks where we walk yet without sin can show us how to live holy lives.

Jesus came to shine his revealing light in dark places so that we might repent of what we have done wrong and be forgiven. We are all more aware of the wrong we have done to God’s beautiful creation at the moment as we battle the effects of climate change. Even the pandemic is seen as coming from our abusive relationship with creation.

Jesus came to forgive and heal us. The earth might still suffer the consequences of what we have done. One day Hebrews says Jesus will roll up the heaven and the earth like a garment. Jesus will still be life and light even then. John says that “In him was life. There will be a new heaven earth.

When Jesus takes away our sin he fills us with his wonderful, abundant, vibrant life.

John says that to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God.

Jesus came to make us like him. Since he is the “reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being,” he changes us to reflect his glory and leave an imprint of God’s presence wherever we go.

Jesus came to bring us the place where he is. Whether we are alive here or alive with him in glory,

He lavishes his love upon us, giving us the privileges he has as the only, much loved Son of the Father

Because Jesus came, we can become a child of God, be reborn and have God’s life and light within us, God’s DNA running through us. We become children of God, heirs of the Father and inheritors of the Kingdom of heaven

The early church saw Jesus pour out gifts of forgiveness, healing, new wine, food, care, acceptance, and new life.

They saw God’s love and power in action. The early Christian saw that Jesus was full of grace and truth partly because they saw him working through the lives of his followers.

They also experienced God’s love through a direct encounter with Jesus and the intervention of the Holy Spirit, often in answer to the prayers of believers.

Jesus gives us good gifts, not because we deserve them but because he is full of grace. He loves and forgives us as we are. He enables us to have the relationship of absolute intimacy with the Father that he enjoyed where we might hear God’s heartbeat and know his mind.

He gives us his love to love others and the power of the Holy Spirit to do what he did in the world.

Jesus gives us all of himself. “Of his fullness” John says, “have you all received.” All that Jesus received from the Father he pours into us.

We first have to receive and believe in him, invite him in and experience his life and light for ourselves.

We have seen Jesus walking among us, touching and healing our sick, comforting the distraught, giving wisdom to our leaders and bringing new life to his creation in the lives of Christians who have helped their neighbours, given and served in food banks, in our doctors, nurses and chaplains and in countless other acts of generosity during the pandemic.

In the last few days, possibly as a result, we have seen a softening towards Christians in the media, particularly the news.

Christians have hope. As the recognition that we cannot solve our present problems in our own strength or through science increases may we call out to Jesus, the creator of our universe, who is alive and still dwells with his people. According to the Street version of the opening verses of John’s gospel, “Before anything moved, mutated or mated, Jesus, God’s voice was there from the kick off. How come? Cos Jesus, God’s voice is God.”

Jesus still makes his angels winds and his servants flames of fire. He still moves among us, dwelling with us and in us in power and love.

As you receive and celebrate him this Christmas, may you feel and know his presence holding you tight.