Christmas Eve - Reflection

'Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord'. Luke 2:11

What are we to make of the Christmas story? We tell it every year, the wisemen, the shepherds, Mary, Joesph, Jesus, and the wee donkey. We ask children to act out the story, we get everyone to sing about this story, however, there are plenty of other stories, we could act out or sing about! What on earth are we to make of this story, this true story, with all its strangeness.

This time of year is full of feature length films, we love nothing better than putting our feet up and watching a movie. People are often divided over their favourite movies to watch at this time of year, and surprisingly enough war films, especially World War Two films, get a lot of air time. As we think back to those events of the Second World War, which for the vast majority of us happened well before our lifetime, we are forced to hear a story of a time when darkness descended on Europe. And in that conflict it seemed at first, for a number of years in fact, that the darkness was winning. Men and women in Europe chose either to embrace the darkness, or to flee, for at that time to fight was to lose. The question which many were asking was: ‘Where is the hope?’ ‘Where is the light shining in the darkness?’ 

One war film I was given for Christmas a couple of years ago now was Christopher Nolan's film 'Dunkirk' where the story is told of the successful evacuation of British soldiers from the French beaches of Dunkirk. The strap line of that film has stuck with me: 'They couldn't get home, so home came to them'.They couldn't get home, the soldiers that was. They were stuck on the beaches, and had no way of getting back to Britain. The darkness was outstripping them. They had lost the battles in France and they were running for their lives. And when they hit those beaches they had run as far as they could. They looked for light, the light of the Royal Navy ships who should rescue them, but as they looked out to the sea, they could see only darkness. They were completely and utterly helpless. They couldn't get home, and where stranded on the beaches. But then something miraculous happened: 'home came to them'. That is: civilians, old men, and teenagers, sailed small boats, yachts and steamers over to the beaches of Dunkirk, to save the helpless, stranded men. 'They couldn't get home, so home came to them'. The light came, not as an impressive naval convoy, but as a flotilla of small, tiny, and seemingly helpless little boats. They couldn't get home, so home came to them. 

And really, in a nutshell, that is the Christmas story. 'We couldn't get home, so home came to us'. We, like those soldiers in Dunkirk, are stranded and helpless. We can't get to God! There is too big a gulf, all the mistakes we've made, all the bad things we've done weigh us down and get in the way. Our sins are like the English channel, the impassable sea which separated those English soldiers from home; we can't get home. But the wonderful Christmas news, which we were reminded of in our songs this evening, is that though we couldn't get home, we couldn't get to God, home, God, came to us. That first Christmas, God came from heaven, to the helpless human race, to give us the chance to be rescued; to give us the chance to get home; to give us a chance to get back to God. The baby in the crib was a sort of rescue boat, offering us a way to get home, a way to get back to God. That first Christmas the light really did shine in the darkness, and it came not as an impressive military leader, or as a politician with her speeches, or even as a leading business man with his carefully crafted strategies. No, the light came as a little baby… a small, tiny, and seemingly helpless little baby. 'We couldn't get home, so home came to us’. And this evening as we have sung about that light, He is who we have been singing about, a rescue boat, a tiny fragile speck of light, a baby who came to offer us a way home. The true story of Christmas is that God did not abandon us to our darkness. No He comes as a fragile and seemingly helpless baby to rescue us and offer us a way home. Our job is to accept the gift, to unwrap the present, which we do by trusting Him, and giving Him command over our lives!

So amongst all the excitement of Christmas, the jumpers, the crackers and the turkey, amongst the busyness, and the piles of presents, let us take a moment to remember why Christmas is such wonderful good news: 'Though we couldn't get home, home came to us'.