Good Morning and Merry Christmas! Welcome to our worship, led today by Rev Christine Fox
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God Bless x
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Rev Christine Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org
Children's and Family worker - Jessica Bullett: Jessicagrangewood@outlook.com
Thank you to all those who have been part of putting together this special Christmas Day service.
Message - Rev Christine Fox
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem the town was full of visitors – and it has since become a major tourist site – usually full of thousands of visitors to the site of the birth of Jesus. But not this year – restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops are closed, the border with Jordan is closed, so no visitors from anywhere else are expected. What a different scene. The Angel hotel is closed – the site of the first outbreak of covid-19 in some tourists – bringing a rather different gift than that brought by the travellers from the East who came to visit Jesus.
Yes I did say ‘gift’ – I’m sure not all the gifts you receive are nice ones – or things you wanted. And still you may wear that dreadful jumper and take a pic to send to the giver – even if then you pass it on – maybe to the charity shop – because someone else might like it, or maybe you would put it in the bin.
Well if someone gives you the coronavirus you won’t like it but you will just have to put up with it – fight it with your immune system – stay in and rest and pray and hope someone will look after you – at a distance of course – as it’s a gift you really don’t want to pass on!
But maybe as with all things some people can see a positive side to every gift – even Covid19 - as long as they aren’t too sick with it – some time off work or school perhaps? Maybe someone is nicer to you because you’re not well? And if you’re really sick and die – well some people will even say – you get to be with Jesus in heaven quicker! Well that’s rather extreme positivity isn’t it!
But maybe that kind of thinking can inspire us to find some of the positive things about a Christmas when Bethlehem is empty, when we can’t all meet up with people, even if the government have said its okay for 3 households to meet together at some time over these 5 days, because we know that the virus is still around and we don’t want to give it to anyone whose immune system isn’t strong.
So I asked some friends to see if they could think of some positive things about Christmas in a time of coronavirus – one said he has more time to watch sport, another said when the Lord came as a babe, there was turmoil in his world; and there is definitely turmoil in our part of the world this Christmas. Therefore, as He came to save the world then, the faithful people are still looking to the message that He comes again and again to save us!
She added - Also, maybe this Christmas especially, as people can't go about their 'buy-buy-buy' strategy, they might focus less on material things and more on the true message.
Do you know, I think some of us felt we used to have to do things at Christmas that were nothing to do with celebrating the birth of the Saviour of the world! Though Bethlehem is closed down today, Jesus still comes and waits for you to open the doors of your heart - and you can still do that – maybe even more easily when there are less of the usual things to fill your Christmas day.
Close your eyes now and picture a gift – not a new toy wrapped in paper but this gift is a baby laid in a manger – wrapped in cloths, ready for you to welcome into your heart. The busy sounds of the inn are muffled, though you may hear angels singing if you listen carefully. This gift child will grow up and live a life of love, and also one day die – but surprisingly even that turned out to be a good thing as he rose again from the dead to show everyone the way to heaven.
Of course Christmas is not about ignoring the difficulties that are all around, but looking for beautiful, positive things appearing in dark places is what Christmas is all about, and gives us the inner peace and joy that sustain us through it all. Amen.