Christmas (B) 2017

All creation is a revelation of what God is like, through the work of God’s hands.
The Bible is a revelation of what God is like through the writings of various people who were inspired to write down what their understanding of God was.
The Incarnation – the birth of Jesus of Nazareth at Christmas – is a revelation to us, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, of what God is like.
At Christmas we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
Because of the coming of Jesus of Nazareth we no longer have to wonder about God – what he is like or how He would act in certain circumstances.
Now we can learn all about God from looking at and listening to Jesus of Nazareth.
From what I can see, when there is dispute about what God wants or doesn’t want, about what is right or wrong, it boils down to human reluctance to accept the truth. It boils down to self interest, greed, avarice. It boils down to a refusal to forgive, to tolerate differences, to share, to help those in need.
In prison, John the Baptist had the same problem. He was having doubts as to who Jesus of Nazareth really was so he sent some of his friends to ask Jesus himself.
The reply they got was : “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.”
John the Baptist, and all of Israel, were looking forward to a Redeemer who would be like King David. One who would scatter and destroy all the enemies of Israel and set up a powerful and independent nation.
But Jesus of Nazareth was speaking and practising, mercy and forgiveness, healing of the sick and the grieving, unity and sharing, love and compassion and not vengeance, nor destruction of perceived enemies, not war and scattering, not suspicion and marginalisation.
John the Baptist and all of Israel found this hard to take. They had been brought up on their nationalism, on their superiority as a people, on their exclusivity. Vengeance for past wrongs and revenge on their enemies was a holy grail. That is why many would take offence at what Jesus of Nazareth did and said. ( Would not many of us today, take offence also, in today’s context.)
Jesus of Nazareth would have none of this.
We are told: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Christmas is about healing, co-operation, unified action, tolerance of differing attitudes, cultures and beliefs. So, don’t just think about having a ‘merry’ Christmas . Think about having a tolerant, forgiving, unifying Christmas.