Christmas Message 2003

For many people, God, Jesus
and the Christian faith have no connection with daily life. For them,
religious people live in two separate lives – a spiritual one – saying
prayers, going to church, reading the Bible and a secular one – going
to work, bringing up a family, enjoying time off, and the two lives as
it were, do not relate to one another at all. But the central message of
Christmas is that, unless your faith is grounded in your normal daily activities,
be that to do with work, leisure or family then you’ve not really
understood either the Christian faith or what this feast of Christmas is
all about. Why? – because the message of Christmas is that the word
became flesh – a real human person of flesh and blood grounded in
ordinary life. God through Jesus comes to live in our world because he
made it and he loves it, and gets involved in it with all its joys and
sorrows, pleasures and pains, for God doesn’t come as a spirit, he
comes as a human being with all that being human entails. God takes the
world seriously – every aspect of it.

That means that if you and I are to find God, we have to find him not
in some far away religious world, but in the mess and chaos of our everyday
life. ‘The whole earth is consecrated ground’ writes one
of our poets. God speaks to our world in the things that happen to us,
the books we read, the films we watch, the friends and family we have.
God works through our world often in unexpected ways, and in the most
unlikely places. Who would have thought, for example, to look for him
in a manger, a baby born of peasant stock? He is a God full of surprises – we
need always to be on the lookout for what he may be up to next.