Another year has come and gone since I wrote and posted a photo of Matilda in 2016. 2017 was another special year for Naomi and I with the birth of Pollyanna in December, our very own Christmas baby. Our family is now complete; Freddy, Matilda, and Pollyanna – not forgetting our dog Toby.
Family life is so precious, albeit demanding with three children under the age of three. My resolutions for 2018 reflect this, and I hope I can do justice to them: Look after myself better (so I can be there my family and work smarter). Spend quality time with family every day. Live in the moment and worry less. Effective planning and organising in my personal and work life. Run twice a week (reaching parkrun 100 milestone if possible).
After his baptism, Jesus was tempted in the desert. This might seem a strange way to start a Christmas thought, in fact it’s not as strange as at first sight. The story concerns power, it’s about Jesus being tempted to exercise power over people; ultimately he chose the power of love over the love of power. I’m reminded of the words of Jimi Hendrix: When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
The simple message of Christmas is that God has chosen the way of love and vulnerability over power. A baby born in humble and vulnerable circumstances can’t exercise power, yet that was how Jesus came and lived.
The cover of the Christmas Salvation Army War Cry 2014 illustrates this beautifully; it’s a picture of vulnerability that sums up the incarnation in today’s world. Take a few moments to reflect on it.
The traditional story tells us how Jesus was placed in a feeding trough (manger from the French verb to eat), but in this modern nativity he’s placed in a familiar manger – a supermarket trolley! I’m not sure if this was intentional, but it caught my attention.
Finally, here’s something I read recently in the context of the feeling that Christ is being squeezed out of Christmas: The whole story of Advent is the story of how God can’t be kept out. God is present. God is with us. God shows up – not with a parade but with the whimper of a baby, not among the powerful but among the marginalized, not to the demanding but to the humble.
As we welcome Jesus this Christmas, we’re reminded that he entered our world as vulnerable as us; ultimately he nailed that vulnerability to a cross for us – all our fears, insecurities and sins. We can only marvel that he came in this way, reaching out to a world in need.