Happy Christmas – from "The God of Surprises"
Now then, when you are asked,” What do you want for Christmas?" - do you reply,
“I know just what I want ... !"
“Go on….Surprise me!"
In the Rectory, we’re probably a mixture of both. Luckily, both our sons know EXACTLY what they want nowadays. Their requests (?) are much more within budget and 'acceptable' nowadays, but as every parent will know, this has not always been the case! There have been times when we have had to negotiate a little and provide what we know will last a lot longer than the five-minute-wonder that had originally wanted. Sometimes, you have to take control, even if you meet them halfway.
The Jews also knew EXACTLY what they wanted for their 'Christmas' present from God. He had promised them a 'present', and they even knew something about it. It was going to be a 'He', and He was going to be the "Messiah'. He would come from Bethlehem; He would be born of the House of David, and He would 'Save' them. And they 'knew’ EXACTLY what this 'present', this He, should be like.
He should be strong in battle, to light off the marauding enemies that had plagued the land that God had given them. He would be the equivalent of our modem day Batman, Superman, Action-man and GI Joe all rolled into one. He would rid them of the Romans, and never more would the Assyrians or Babylonians dare face the Israelites again. He would be popular, an icon for everyone to look up to and admire for his power and might. He would make Jerusalem the centre of the universe and keep the Jewish people as his favourites.
Oh yes! This would be the Christmas present to end all Christmas presents. They would be free at last. The Jews had it all worked out!
But the 'God of Surprises' saw things a little differently - perhaps saw the folly of all their wants and wishes. He saw that this form of present wouldn't last for too long: a 'five minute wonder' is all it would be. He knew many of them would be disappointed if they didn't get exactly what they wanted. But sometimes you have to take control. Sometimes you know what is best. So he negotiated with them. Yes, he would send them a Messiah who would give them their freedom that they wanted so much. But not quite the sort of freedom might only last for a generation or two. No, this freedom would be one that would last forever. And it wouldn't be just for the Jews either. This freedom was for everyone.
The present that God gave, in the form of Jesus Christ, wasn't really accepted by the Jews on the whole. It wasn't quite the present they wanted. It wasn't EXACTLY how they imagined it to be. For a start, he didn't appear as a super hero who would rid them of the Romans, or protect them from the large oppressive nations that surrounded Palestine. And as such, most of them tossed him aside and waited for God to send them their real present.
But not all. Some did believe. And they recognised that the freedom that Jesus Christ had given them was the sort of freedom that they really wanted anyway. The freedom from sin and death. Jesus was to set us all free from the bondage of sin and the despair of death. Death became just the medium through which we pass in order to live with God. And that’s all the Jews wanted really anyway: it's what we all want if we are honest.
And so, from the faith and trust of those first few that did believe, we are here today, eager once more to celebrate the greatest Christmas present that God could have ever given us. A present, not from a God who automatically responds to the demand
“I know what I want”
but a God who pleasantly challenges us when we say
A God who himself is The God of Surprises!
Have a happy and holy Christmas,
from Chris, Thelma,
Richard and Ben.