Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why I don't like Nativity Plays...

I hate nativity plays. It’s the sweet little story told by excited small children, that I don’t like. And it’s not in this case because I’m a grumpy old man. It’s because that story is a story for children and the Christmas story really isn’t. Oh rather, there is nothing wrong with the children's play except that when that's all people see. That children's story is not relevant to me, or my life, or anyone I know.
The Christmas story, however, as told by Luke and Matthew tells of a baby born of an unmarried mother (who could have been cast out by society or worse), of poverty, of imperial despotic rule by a foreign power, of dangerous geopolitics, of genocide and of refugees. And at the heart of this mess, the ridiculous notion of God himself arriving.

The Christmas story includes much that is worst of humanity and tells that the God behind the Big Bang – the one who wrote the Standard Equation, who devised the genetic code, looked at our world; looked at the incredible ability of human beings to damage the world, to damage fellow human beings and to damage themselves and decided to become part of that world. A God prepared to reach out to us by first becoming helpless and arriving in the midst of human chaos.

This is not a story for children but it is one of Love. Love is beautiful and often at its most beautiful when it’s not pretty. Love is caring for the relative with Alzheimer’s who doesn’t even recognise you. Love is looking after the sick child who just pukes all over you, love is those who work to keep us safe… so many things: And love is God himself getting involved with our world and our brokenness.
I fully appreciate that in a few short years, I shall probably be in the front row and smiling. But I still don’t like the simplistic story. I do however love the 20-centuries old story of how God became human. And when the news today shows the same chaos, the poverty, the dangerous geopolitics, the refugees, I don’t need a children’s story. But I do want to follow the God who saw all that and rolled-up his sleeves and came to be with us.
Mild, he lays his glory by,
Born that man no-more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new born King!
 Happy Christmas, everyone; may you know something of God’s awesome love this Christmastime.