Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Timely Reminder of A Timeless Message (Luke 2:1-18) Christmas Day 2014

I really like the videos the kids from St Paul’s Symonds Street  put together for Christmas… that one was from last year 2013..and it’s great that they are willing to let people freely use their resources. And if you don't mind the pun its really a Christmas video with star power...

The video is great because it puts the Christmas story in a context we are used to seeing in our living rooms every day, we flick on the Tele and watch the news.

I’m not sure about the baby glowing… But the video invoke realistic  images we are used to seeing, events that impact on our lives in the world today …cramming content in between breaks… reporters wearing bullet proof vests… the reflect to duck at a loud sound or unexplained light… armed soldiers in the street… there to maintain law and order in middle eastern towns…there at the command of the powerful to impose their ideology and their rule on the people… crowds of displaced peoples… over flowing into the streets flooding the roads and having to find shelter where they can. Unrest and violence … if you are wondering where that unrest is in the biblical narrative well biblical scholars have always  found it hard to pin point the census that Luke is talking about… they do know that when they had a certain census under Quirinius that it did cause riots and unrest… People knew it was all about taxes.

I don’t know about you but those very real connections with the way things are today made me think… it was a timely reminder of a timeless message. That the good news of Jesus Christ is a message of hope for our world today as much as it was the dawn of a new hope way back then.

Amidst the ebb and flow of empires the kingdom of God was established… the rule of God came to the realms of humanity… NT wright puts it like this “Augusts way off in Rome was at the height of his power. He was seen as the saviour of the world> he was its king and it’s Lord. He was the self-styled son of god. .. But the birth of the baby is the starting point of a confrontation between the kingdom of God in all its apparent weakness, insignificance and vulnerability and the kingdom of this world.”

It’s important for us to know that because of Jesus Christ, his birth, life and death and resurrection the kingdom of God has come into the world… there is a light for all humanity. God has made a way for us to have our sins forgiven and to know God as our heavenly father, to be empowered to live in a new way. In the daunting news from round the world that floods into our living rooms and which can sometimes overwhelm us it is good to know that an alternative narrative is also at work. Maybe not in the grandiose and big ways, but like with a birth of a baby in ways that may go unnoticed.  I read an article last week about someone who was wondering how Jesus born in a manger might feel about religious rituals, soring cathedrals and multimedia palaces that have been erected in his name… Then the writer stopped and said that the things that focused him on Jesus again were the small things, being done by ordinary people, sacrificial love being shown by those who claim to know and follow Jesus… he noted with respect and awe that the Time Person of the year this year is not one person of power or significance but a group of people a majority of them Christians working with the victims of Ebola in West Africa.

The kingdom and hope born with that baby in Bethlehem is established in this world by people who know him and follow him who are willing to love others, often un heralded and unseen… people who  because they are forgiven forgive others, who because they have received so much from God are willing to give people who know the freedom and life that Jesus brings are willing like the shepherds to simply tell other what they have witnesses to be true.

t is also a timely reminder of a timeless message in New Zealand today… because today marks the 200th anniversary of the proclamation of the gospel in Aotearoa New Zealand. Before your Christmas lunch today at 11am you might want to flick on the TV and see the live telecast of the Christmas day service from the Marsden cross at Rangihoua Bay in northland.  Ruatara the nephew of ngapuhi chief Hongi Heke had spent time with Samuel Marsden in Parramatta new south wales, he appreciated the kindness and respect he was shown so he invited MArsden to come to New Zealand and establish a Mission. Marsden preached the first service on Christmas day 1814.  Maori and Pakeha first lived together in that place the first school was established on that site.  It is good to have a timely reminder this Christmas about the impact and the possibility of the gospel here in our land.

In an increasingly multicultural city and nation it is important to remember that the gospel invites us to see one another as ‘One in Christ’… whanau because we are Brothers and sisters… as John tells us  the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us and  to all who received him he gave the right to be called the sons and daughters of the most high.”

  In a country beset with inequality and a nation and world wrestling with how to deal with poverty, it good to be reminded that the good news of Jesus birth was shared first with lowly shepherds that the one who came to establish his kingdom and said blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of God.

In the face of sin and death it is good to again reminded of the power of the gospel to bring forgiveness and new life.

In the face of feeling hopeless in the face of so many things it is good to remember the hope of the kingdom of God, established in Christ carried by Christ in the lives of those who know him and awaiting consummation in Christ’s return.

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