This week I had the privilege of being given the slot before Christmas in the Faith Matters column of our local newspaper, the Solihull News. Here is the text of my article:
With only a few more days to go, let me wish you a Happy Christmas! I hope you and your families have a good one.
One of the things that always concerns me at this time of the year is that I should keep in focus the things that need to be crystal clear. Defocus can be a creative technique in photography, but on the whole we need focus and clarity in order to make things, to get things done, to understand things clearly. The trouble with the blurriness of a defocussed view is that everything begins to blend together. Important details and features get missed.
I believe our society, and maybe even the church, suffers from a lack of focus when it comes to Christmas. When I think of how society presents the occasion to me, I think of lights, shopping, good food, christmassy songs, bad weather, warmth, red clothing with white trim, lots of ho-hos.
Nothing wrong with all that in itself. But what is out of focus? What has been blurred out of the picture that we no longer notice?
Here it is – Immanuel – a name given to Jesus which means, “God with us”. What easily gets out of focus is the significance of the birth of Jesus. He was not just another sweet baby, but this was God taking on flesh in a stupendous, supernatural intervention in history.
Such an act of God gripped the early church. The Apostles’ Creed boldly declares to the world its belief in “Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary”.
Immanuel – God with us. Jesus – he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21,23). Get Immanuel in focus at the start of the story of the Gospels and tenaciously follow him as the story unfolds to his death and resurrection. See how this God-man was and remains the Saviour the world needs. Discover him and you really will have a lastingly Happy Christmas!
Minister, Solihull Presbyterian Church
20 December 2013