Monday, 2 December 2013

The gift that keeps on giving

It is December the 1st and the anticipation and excitement is growing. The Christmas season get’s longer and longer. Last Saturday – the 23rd November I was in B & Q and what what was playing over the tannoy...
“And here it is merry Christmas everybody’s having fun.....” The dulcet tones of Saint Noddy Holder of Walsall.
Now obviously commercial businesses use the excitement and anticipation of Christmas just to sell things but they wouldn’t do it at all if there was no excitement and anticipation there to tap into in the first place.
Christmas is the nation’s favourite Christian festival by a million miles.
Who is looking forward to Christmas? It is exciting.
Today we will send off Mary and Joseph on their journey around the village. Over 2000 years ago they would have been very excited as well. Looking forward to the birth of their first child.
But Christians look forward to something else as well. Of course we look forward to the celebration of Jesus’ birth as much as anyone but we also look forward to a better, happier world.
Of course Christians aren’t the only ones to look forwards to an end to hunger, thirst, war, and hate but in this special season of Advent we are given the opportunity to think about it more than others.
But Christians have not just been given a special time to think and hope for a better world. We have been given much much more.
We have also been given the instructions, and the means to actually bring this better world about.
The New Testament of the Bible is a record of one extraordinary man’s vision of what the world could be. And in the way Jesus lived and the guidance he left with us, we have something to copy.
His advice to us was simple. Be the change you want to see in the world yourself. There is no point is sitting back and hoping that things will get better as if by magic. We can change the world one person at a time and we must start with ourselves.
And from that change in yourself the change ripples outwards because you will affect other people by that change.
Of course you don’t have to hold any specific faith to want to help people but the fact is that even today the voluntary and charitable sector that underpins our society would collapse if it wasn’t for the involvement of tens of thousands of Christians giving their time and energy to help people.
They do it because their faith has changed them. That is what we want. That is what we are looking forward to – but not just hoping or praying for change but being that change.
Being able to change things for the better is what excites us and motivates us and fills us with hope – the hope of a better tomorrow for all of the people of the world.
This hope, this excitement, this anticipation for Christians is not just crammed into a month before Christmas but is a constant presence with us.
And that is why we constantly invite people to join us. We call it a fancy name – evangelism – but it is simply an invitation to join us in something life enhancing and life giving. It is like giving someone a gift  because with an active faith you gain something, and it is free. You gain a sense of love and compassion, a sense of acceptance and forgiveness, but also you gain that sense of hope and excitement and anticipation that is a constant companion. We call that the Spirit of God.
Anyone can have this gift for free if they really want it.
Be the hope,
Be the anticipation,

Be the change. 

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