Friday, December 19, 2008
The X-mas Factor
I know, the title is a bit naff - 'The X-mas Factor' - and probably not very original, but it's hard work always having to try to come up with new ways to talk about Christmas! I sometimes feel that there is this pressure from traditional church - whether or not the pressure is real - to reinforce that the Christmas message always stays the same, in the midst of a changing world. But the more I look at the Bible readings we use during Advent - particularly the words of prophets like Isaiah, but also the 'traditional' nativity stories of Jesus too - the more I feel that 'God is doing a new thing', not just way back when in history, but time and time again ... After all, what we need to realise is that there's something genuinely unexpected about the birth of Jesus - and to 'get' it, every year, we need to witness it as a surprise each time. The Roman Empire taught its people that it was the source of peace, and there were stories about the Emperor being miraculously born, and people being guided to his birth by a mysterious star - so when Matthew and Luke wrote their nativity stories, they were doing something dangerous and unexpected: they were saying God doesn't bless the imperial teachings, but, as the nativity shows, is to be found working through a family for whom 'there is no room' - a very different power at work, and a very different X-mas factor, bringing peace from below, in solidarity with the vulnerable.