On Christmas Eve last year at the end of our children`s service I invited the little ones to come to the front of the church to have a closer look at the crib figures…. Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and all the rest. Well, that`s when the stampede started and it was amazing to see how they took my invitation to come a bit closer so literally. It gave a whole new meaning to what we call the `Christmas rush`!
But it was just like that in the Christmas story. We`re told the shepherds came `running` down to Bethlehem to see if what the Angels had said was true. And this was interesting because those shepherds were the outsiders. They spent much of their time in the hills. They couldn`t keep all the religious regulations and so people looked down on them a bit.
But when you think about it, it was these outsiders that were first to get the news about Jesus…. And that`s why they came running. They came running because they got the point: “To YOU in David`s Town is born a Saviour” said the Angel. “To YOU”. They came running because they were amazed that THEY were included as well.
Over these next few days I guess many of us will be running about just like them. We`ll be gathering in the last few gifts or bits of Christmas shopping. We want this to be a happy time; and sometimes it gets a bit busy as Christmas Eve comes closer.
If that`s true for you why not let your busyness and your running around remind you of that first Christmas rush; those children who couldn`t wait to get to the crib… and those shepherds who came running to the manger to welcome Christ.
Why not let your running about remind you that Christmas has always been a bit like this. Only it began with people running about, unable to contain themselves because what was going on was all about God inviting us, drawing us closer to himself… God, “including you in”… perhaps despite what you might think of yourself and how your life`s been going.
You might expect me to say, “Come running to Church this Christmas…” But why ever not? As a little girl said to me the other day “Something very important happened in the little town of Bethlehem”.
Oh, and as you think about that God who `includes you in` try not to be SO busy that you miss those who might feel a bit left out or lonely this year. Do keep a look out for your friends and neighbours; include them in because that`s what God does. And may he bless you and your loved ones this Christmas time.
Lakeland Radio Broadcast Sunday 21st December 2014