It’s December and I’ve become increasingly aware of my non-blogging over the last couple of months. My reading and movie lists are way out of date and I may as well have dropped off the planet as far as this blog goes. Nevertheless, I’m still here. So what’s been keeping me away from my keyboard?
Death and disease mostly. Other people’s, not mine. I won’t go into details, except to say that two facts shine out brightly in the middle of it all. One is that I’m hopelessly inadequate. I struggle horribly to be the minister that is needed on these occasions, and while I achieve some good results I know how much I don’t do or do badly.
The other is that God is gloriously great. Time and again he’s caught the ball I’ve dropped, and kicked it for touch. In the middle of my muddle I am carried by the knowledge that at the heart of the universe is a God who has given himself completely for me; I am caught, as Paul puts it, by the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Every Sunday we light another candle on our advent wreath in the service. The wreath is lovely, but its base is a cross; a candle at each end and the Christ candle in the centre. The cradle of the Christ child is interpreted to us by the cross of the crucified carpenter. And vice versa. The cradle is part of the crucifixion; the ‘humiliation of the Word’, and the crucifixion is part of the incarnation, the life of God in the flesh. Thus God recognises and accepts pain and suffering in the whole of human life, from birth to death. Thus God accepts and glorifies in himself all of human being, from conceptus to corpse. Because of the crucifixion we dare to see the pain and tragedy and evil that lies at our heart, knowing that God has dealt with these things in person – in the flesh. Because of the cradle of Bethlehem we delight to see in every human being at every time the face of God who has taken human flesh into eternity.
Death and disease happen, and my response is inadequate at best, and sometimes just plain wrong. But God has delved more deeply into these than I and has aready lifted my burdens heavenward.
Give it to him this Christmas.