Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas in Community: Nativity Service Talk

AFC Nativity 16.12.18
Once again it’s been lovely to have our All Age Nativity with different age groups taking part.

Just seeing the story re-enacted has reminded me that the days surrounding the birth of Jesus were  anything but  private occasions.

That first Christmas was very much a community event. 
There’s the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and their baby.  This young couple went through so much together from their long journey to Bethlehem, the chaos of the birth itself to their panic laden escape as refugees to Egypt.  But, maybe that’s the point, they did it together and found support in one another.

Then there’s the visitors without an appointment – shepherds and wise men.  Groups of people from either end of the social spectrum who all wanted to welcome the infant Jesus.

And, of course, there’s the angel choir, maybe even big enough to have filled the Albert Hall, singing SATB, or whatever angels sing (!) to both honour and proclaim the birth of The Prince of Peace.

Christmas isn’t a private time for the original participants.  It’s struck me this year just how much it was a moment of community.

God has made us in such a way that we often find strength in community.  Even the Trinity itself is a picture of community in action as Father, Son and Spirit work co-operatively together.

When a group of us visited Hauke and his family in Germany in September we arrived for our stay at Bremen airport and were taken to look at the town.  We stood outside the cathedral beside the statue of four animals standing on top of each other – the Brothers Grim Fairy Tell entitled the Musicians of Bremen.

The story has a moral – each of the four animals was rather small by itself and not able to fend off its enemies.  But if they each stood on one another’s back, if they worked together and became one in their endeavour, then they would look really big and tall and maybe in the darkness frighten off those who wanted to do them harm.

By working together they became stronger.

So much of Christmas is about community.  In the Lord Jesus, God has shown us what a human life looks like when others are put first, when service is undertaken by a whole group or when a collection of individuals pull together and take note of the one going at the slowest pace.

God seems to delight in community and the birth of Jesus is surrounded by it from the Holy Family to the shepherds, angels and wise men.

May God’s blessing be yours this Christmas as you celebrate it amongst the communities you cherish, and may your part in those communities – be they church, family, neighbours or work continue to be a sphere of service and a source of inspiration throughout 2019.

In the name of that community of love and light, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen

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