Christmas 2015 Message

29 November 2015

A friend of mine emailed me the other day and noted how concerned he was that everyone standing on the station platform - except himself - had their heads down looking at their Smartphones or Tablets. Was life so empty or so scary, he wondered, that they had to bury their heads in technology - rather than experiencing the beauties and wonders of the real world?

Well, to some extent, he was right. If burying one's nose in a smartphone or a tablet (or a book or newspaper or magazine even) is because we are not as interested in the world around us as we should be, then we should worry. However, of course, it is also true that people may be catching up with the news, reading thought-provoking articles, sending some money to charity, or preparing for an important meeting that may affect other lives.

So, two points arise from my friends' observation. One was suggested to me by one of our congregation: a station full of people with literally thousands of pounds worth of technology (not to mention the billions of dollars spent to bring that information to them) standing there on that platform, is in sharp contrast to all we've learned in recent months of the tragedy of Syria and the subsequent refugee crisis. The eternal story of the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

In terms of Christmas, we see a similar contrast between the power and wealth of the Roman Empire, plus the opulent court of King Herod, over against Mary and Joseph and their unborn child (with no room at the Inn). And, afterwards, their refugee status, as they escape the threat of death into Egypt. We, who 'have', should sometimes look up from our own concerns, and address the needs of those who 'have not'.

The second point is that we should always make time to look up from technology and engage with the physical world in the here and now. Our job is, through this act, to recognise and to celebrate what is of timeless worth; God's astonishing creation, on our doorsteps.

May you have a blessed Christmas. May you enjoy all that is good and true and beautiful. May we all, also, take time out to consider and to help those who are struggling with their lives. That is, after all, the message that Jesus brought to our world, that first Christmas.