You know that wonderful feeling you get when you finally know what you are doing, it all makes sense, some good things happen, God’s in heaven and all’s right with the world? You do? You lucky soul, you. I know the feeling exists, I have even experienced it fleetingly, but generally speaking, when I do, it’s a sign that my world is about to fall apart, again.
It’s been a strange Christmas. The “work” bits have been extraordinary, people have come and engaged and gone away happy, some promising to return. We’ve had unexpected musicians join our merry throng, and a carol service was made even more special by the handbell ringers and their beautiful chimes. I actually enjoyed the Christingle services – a first for me. Sermons turned out coherently (I’m told), and all was well. In many respects, it couldn’t have been more perfect. I even managed to worship at the Manger with everyone else.
And then there was life. Real life. Friends whose lives have been turned upside down by circumstances and events not of their making or choosing. Family members struggling with ill health, and needing care. People I have met over this Christmas who have been dealing with memories of bad times, or with very present difficulties. People wondering what on earth is going on in their lives, how they can make it through these moments, wondering where is God….
I’ve had a number of cuddles with young things this Christmas – babies, toddlers, puppies, kittens. Each of them a bundle of potential and pent up energy, struggling to express themselves. They remind me of the fact of Incarnate Christ-child, of God made human, of Emmanuel (God with us). Jesus knows what it is to be fully human as well as fully divine, Jesus knows what it is to love, to hurt, to be rejected, to care, to struggle. Does that make any difference? Yes, I believe it does. It is easier to share difficulties with people who have experienced them than it is to talk to someone who has led a perfect life. Christmas never turns out like the adverts, at least, not in my family. And why should it? Life is messy, Incarnation was messy. How could I possibly take my messy, broken life to God if God didn’t know what it was to be human? Even worse, I couldn’t possible encourage others to take the whole sorry tangles in which they find themselves, and offer it all to God. But Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary, and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Thanks, Lord, I’m on my way.