An extract from Cris’ Christmas Day sermon

In Luke 2:10 it reads ‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’

This is good news for ALL people. The pregnant teenagers, the husbands whose wives seem to have been unfaithful, for the poor who sleep in the fields, or the wealthy who travel by the finest transport. It’s good news for the dictators who are desperately holding on to the little power they have. It’s good news for the village folk who slept through the whole thing and it’s good news for the religious travellers who worship other Gods. Its Good News for those who are searching and those that aren’t. Its Good news for those who want it and those who don’t. It is good news for criminals, murders, pessimists and cynics. It’s good news for the rebels, rioters and warlords. It’s good news for those who say “I’m just not that religious,” or those who only get to gather with us at Christmas. It is also good news for those the church will marry and those whom it won’t, it’s good news for those it will make bishops and those it won’t and it is good news for all those the religious institutions push away and say “this isn’t for you”.

The good news is for ALL people, affluent and broke, the Christian, the Muslim, the educated and the street educated, for the office cleaner and the bank workers. There is no one this isn’t Good News for.

And as soon as we start saying the Good News is only for those who get it, or will play by our rules, or those who understand it, or those who accept it by our terms, it is no longer the Good News. This becomes nothing more than a narrow, elitist religion. Jesus isn’t into religion but he is into invitations to a new thing.

Jesus is Good News for all people. The question isn’t do you understand it, but do you accept it?

Praying expectantly for the kingdom

What to pray for – Your Kingdom come.

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

There’s only 8 days till Christmas. 8 days till we celebrate the mind-blowing mystery of how the God who created the universe and besides whom there is no other, was born in human form, in a smelly room of animals, in the middle east, amidst political oppression that turned to infanticide soon after his birth. How long the people of God had waited for the promised Saviour, the one who would redeem all people, who would reign with justice and righteousness and lead them into a new relationship with God, where forgiveness would offer humanity a new intimacy with their creator. How strange that the promised Saviour would appear in such a messy context, and yet perhaps how apt; a Saviour would not be needed if the situation was fine.

Simeon’s trust in God’s promise that he would see the salvation of all people (Gentiles and Jews) was unwavering and his anticipation so great, that once the promise had been fulfilled, he was content that his life was complete. He understood that when God Almighty himself comes to humanity, as a Saviour, the hope is overwhelming. We have that same hope. When we pray “Your Kingdom come”, we pray with the same expectation and anticipation that Simeon prayed and we have that same hope, if we have that same trust. God has promised that His kingdom will come (Revelation 21:1-5) and as we pray in faith, we wait in hope.

And yet also we see. For the kingdom is near, our saviour tells us. Repent and believe. One of the great marks of the Christian faith is how the kingdom IS ALREADY here in part. We ARE receiving the salvation of our souls and the “inexpressible and glorious joy” that accompanies it (1 Peter 1:8-9). Like an explosion of joy rippling outwards, we see the fruits of the Spirit overflowing in the lives of those who serve the kingdom and we see the fruits of the kingdom overflowing into the lives of those who are on its edge through acts of love and grace. The birth of Christ shows how God’s love overflows and breaks into a messy world. That same love breaks into that same messy world today through the kingdom of Christ, the Saviour King. We can sometimes forget that the kingdom of God is a good thing, when actually it is the greatest thing known to man. Let us pray expectantly and with great excitement and anticipation for it’s coming, both now and in eternity.

Father, as we remember and celebrate the birth of Your son and the beginning of our salvation and freedom through His sacrifice, would we pray that He, our saviour, would be King. Would we pray that His kingdom would come and that your grace would be made known, just as Christ was made known, a living saviour and king, in Bethlehem, in a manger.