story is full of intrigue and wonder. Many questions are raised, some of
which linger in the mind. Why did God choose this particular
time to enter history (what made it ‘just the right time’)? Why in this way, to this particular couple, in this setting? What was it about the shepherds
and the wise men that brought the story of their interest to us? These are questions of plan and pattern, which when applied to God have often left
us not knowing, even with the benefit of hindsight. Many of these questions have been answered to a greater or lesser degree by biblical scholars
through the years.
are still deeper questions: questions of wonder. Could this infant child
truly be the Son of God? Can God really take on human form in this
way? And if so, why is it that so many people failed to recognise it? Did even Mary and Joseph fail to grasp the full implications of this event, and if
so, how is it that we - removed by time and distance - are expected to understand and believe?
to the manger of Bethlehem with so many questions echoing in our minds.
We seek something more conclusive, perhaps something that will
remove any sense of doubt about the work of God and what that means for us. Yet Bethlehem always remains a place of faith, a place where we are
invited to meet God with our doubts and questions, regardless of the level of conviction. Faith does not require us to set aside these questions at all –
in many ways they are the food of faith.
is another question at Bethlehem which comes to us, not from within us,
but from the voice and heart of God; a question of response. What
are you going to do in response to this child? How then will you live in the light of what God has done? For the act of incarnation was no magic trick
merely to elicit applause, it was an act of engagement by God, an entering into our experience in order to change our experience.
to the end of each year, with the excitement and busy-ness of Christmas
catching us in its momentum. We might stop to ponder the events
of Jesus’ birth in much the same light as we read a newspaper report, almost as matters of trivial or prurient interest, with such questions idly echoing
within. To do so is to miss the point altogether.
The Son of God has come, and made his dwelling amongst us. How are you going to respond to him – the one who gave his life for you and I?
December 23, 2001