It’s been really cold recently and we’ve even had snow. We just don’t get that sort of thing in deepest Senegal, so I had to follow the example of the birds out in the garden and fluff up all my feathers to stay warm. And there was one day when a bank of freezing fog descended on our village. If you looked hard, you could just make out the feeble form of the church tower through the murk. And that set me thinking…
You see, for a great many humans, the image of Jesus and the church and all that they represent has become blurred, distant and rather irrelevant. Every Sunday morning, church bells may ring out across villages all over the U.K., but many folk will prefer to carry on snoozing in their beds, or to go shopping, or to play sport, or do just about everything apart from go to church. A fog has crept into their lives which prevents them from seeing what really matters.
It wasn’t very different at the time when Jesus was born. The Pharisees and Sadducees, and any Romans that had a faith, all expected Jesus to burst into this world as a king in some kind of palace. Instead, He was born to humble parents inside an animal shelter. So they failed to see and to understand the true nature of Jesus and all that He stood for.
Christmas is one of those big occasions in the year when the fog can temporarily lift so that some additional humans do indeed notice the church and attend a service or two. But will they ever understand that Jesus is their hope in life as well as their Saviour?
The wider world is forever dumbing down Christianity. Big national employers are now making it compulsory for humans to work on Sundays; some years ago the Red Cross banned nativity displays in the windows of their charity shops; and for Coca Cola, Christmas is simply about the convoy of their lorries arriving in town. Humans exist in a world in which so many trivial things are given priority over what really matters, allowing the fog to get thicker and thicker.
This Christmas, humans don’t need to give one another presents because they’ve already received the ultimate gift in the form of Jesus. And they don’t need to rush off to the January sales because they already have what really counts; -the love of Jesus which we’re supposed to share with one another.
So often, the fog is manmade, and it does immeasurable harm to humans because it blocks them off from everything that truly matters. And I have to ask myself whether humans are any different today, to those that cried out for Barabbas to be released from jail and for Jesus to be crucified?
So this small, insignificant parrot hopes and prays that everyone will know the true love of Jesus this Christmas, because Christmas and Easter together are what make our lives worth living. Let me leave you with these special words:
“May the humility of the Shepherds, The faith of the Wise Men, The joy of the Angels And the peace of the Christ-Child Be God’s gift to us and to all people this Christmas and the blessing of God Almighty, + Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you this day and always. Amen.”