The cover of this month’s special Christmas edition of Yours magazine (available in the Church coffee bar) is adorned by the winning entry to the 2016 Moderator’s Christmas Card competition, drawn by one of our young people in Junior Church. It’s an annual competition run by Wessex Synod to find a worthy picture to decorate the Moderator’s Christmas card. This is then sent out to all Ministers and churches in the Synod the following year, so the artwork will travel far and wide! Well done to our winner for her fantastic design! Look out for it on the Mod’s Christmas card when it appears on our hall board in the next month.
We had some excellent entries to the competition from our young people. One piece worthy of particular commendation is an advent candle design, which I have on good authority came a very close second to the winning picture.
As I look at these pictures I’m reminded of some very simple truths about the real meaning of Christmas. In the rendering of the nativity scene we see once again that at the heart of the Christmas story is a family. Not a high-born or noble family, just a simple family trying to get by in the world and make sense of God’s call in their lives. The stable was no doubt damp and draughty, and with the animals lowing (not to mention Jesus’ crying!) it would have made for a restless night’s sleep, I’m sure. Yet as many will have found, the birth of a child seems to put all other worldly concerns into perspective. Once held in our arms we marvel at the beauty of creation and everything else pales into insignificance.
Similarly, the simple dance of a candle flame as it bobs and weaves into the air bringing comforting light to places of darkness seems the simplest of images. Behind its dance are complex laws of physics that are anything but simple, but in that first moment of illumination it’s more about accepting it as it is, rather than asking why or how. In the same way, when we think of Jesus as the light of the world, part of the beauty of that picture is simply accepting the gift of God without need for qualification or caveat.
Sometimes it’s in the very simplest things in life that God comes close to us. The gentle smile freely offered, the kind word of encouragement carefully chosen, the support found in meaningful friendships, or the tender embrace when words simply aren’t enough. In these moments of simplicity God comes close to us; in these moments of illumination the darkness is rolled back. So, as you venture through Christmas, look for God in the simple as well as the profound, and be prepared to shine God’s light back into the world and the lives of others.
Wishing you a peace-filled Christmas and New Year.