Gloom and doom. The massive gulf between the rich and the poor. Unfair taxation. The powerless being downtrodden. Not much money to go around and not much to cheer you up.
Oh yes you could go to the games and see some “sport” and have your mind taken off things for a while (a bit like the aspirations the politicians have for the Olympics and us) but there was nothing really to cheer about.
The people of Israel knew this 2,000 years ago and an increasing number of people are feeling this today – except of course we are far better off in many ways than they were. This was the world that someone called Jesus was born into.
His birth is proclaimed in the gospel writings as “Good News” - indeed “Good news of great joy” say the angels to the Shepherds who were working their socks off by night! Jesus is heralded as a Saviour – someone who rescues. Who was rescuing whom from what though?
Who? The first believers understood Jesus to be God in human form, bending down to us, taking our flesh, living our lives, suffering our deprivations, sharing our joys and then surrendering his life in a most violent and cruel death. Feeling poor this Christmas – you are in very good company – Jesus lived a life of poverty and homelessness.
The scene of his birth in a stable in the Gospel story is a foreshadowing of how he would live his life.
Whom from what? It is us, all of us that Jesus came to save – not just the people of his era. He came to save us from the bad things we do wrong, the good things we don’t do and the consequences of these. He came to save us from living lives of selfishness and greed.
He came to save us so we could make a difference in a world where so many close the door on those in need, just like the villagers of Bethlehem closed the door in the face of Mary and Joseph in their desperation. He demonstrates God’s great love for us and brings hope to the downtrodden – because God has a special place for them in his heart.
I hope this Christmas you may have your spirits lifted with the good news that God loves you so much that he became a human being.
I hope you may know his forgiveness for things that trouble you and receive his peace. I hope that you may know him in your life and that you might be inspired to live like him and lighten someone else’s gloom.
The Churches of Buxton wish you all a Merry Christmas and are delighted to invite you to join them in celebrating the birth of Jesus The Saviour. If you come to a service I am sure you will be made welcome.
Team Rector and Rural Dean