Awe of Christmas

I believe we have the opposite to Christmas from what Van Morrison did for Belfast streets. Morrison has taken very ordinary places and given them awe and wonder; holiness almost. On the other hand with Christmas, we have so over familiarised ourselves with it that we have taken something full of holiness, awe and wonder and made it very ordinary. Here is a Reflection to help us rekindle the awe...

Lord forgive us when we are matter of fact about Your unbelievable birth
Help us to see it as it is
The one who is above us
Becoming lower than all of us
So that none of us would be in awe of approaching a baby in straw
Help us to see that this baby is Your gift to us
The extent of Your love for us
Help us to believe that we are loved...

Lord forgive us when we explain and memorise Your indescribable birth
Help us to see it as it is
The word becoming flesh to live for awhile among us
Your actions being louder than the words of prophets or patriarchs or psalmists
You becoming one of us in order to reach us with Your love
Help us to see this baby as an example for us
That we too would act louder than we speak
And reach out to others with Your love...

Lord forgive us when we reduce Your spectacular birth to the ordinary
Help us to see it as it is
The birth of a whole new world
A birth whose circumstances would be lived out and taught in the rest of Your ministry
A little inkling of Your upside down and radical kingdom
Help us to see this new world order
That we might seek treasure in heaven rather than on earth
That we might long to be poor, meek and peacemakers
So that Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven...

Max Lucado in his book God Came Near writes this of Christ’s birth...

“The Omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the Universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent on the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The Creator of life being created. God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother. God came near.”

I wrote this for a Queens University Carol Service some years ago...

Almighty God
We approach you and worship you as
The Omnipresent
Omnipotent God
And yet as we draw near you this Christmas season
We cannot help but be provoked by something
Out of kilter, amiss and askew
Instead of a throne in heaven
We are aware of a manger of straw
Instead of robed religious dignitaries
We are aware of cattle, sheep and shepherds
Straight from the fields
Instead of theology graduates in gowns
We are aware of mystical eastern star gazers.
And even more bizarre and disturbing
We are aware of the people of God
Who should know better
Who know enough to search the Holy Scriptures
To find the truth of such events
Using their knowledge
Not to approach you in worship
But to flood the streets of David’s city
With the blood of innocent children and babies
And sending the long awaited and yearned for Messiah
Fleeing his life to Egypt as a refugee
God as we approach you this Christmas
We approach a God who emptied himself
Who gave up his safety and comfort
Who made himself nothing
And left himself vulnerable
God as we approach such wonder
Such a mystery
Such an upside down view of the world
Force us to ask ourselves
Give us a snippet of history’s greatest refrain
The greatest news to be sung to humanity
That God loved us and demonstrated his love for us in this
That while we were still sinners
He was born and lived and died for us
So God as we approach you tonight
We are acutely aware of a God who gave up everything
For us
And if we listen closely we can hear you whisper to us
From the straw of the manger
From the refugee road to Egypt
From the seashore of no reputation
From the mountain of the sermon
From the journey to Calvary
From a cross of wood
Follow me... follow me... follow me...
As the Father sent me so I am sending you
You are the light of the world
The salt of the earth
God as we approach you this Christmas
Give us the courage, the bravery
To follow you…
To give our lives
To be servants of others…

To carry each other...
God we thank you for the wonder of the poetry and art and transforming power of Christmas
That inspired these readings and carols and thoughts...
Make these words flesh in us...
In this baby name


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