St Michael’s, 10th December 2017
Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 1:1-8
For some people, the Christian faith is bad news. Maybe they’ve had a negative experience of the church. Maybe they hold Christians responsible for all the hatred and division in the world. Maybe they find the message of the cross offensive. Whatever the reason, the message of Jesus coming into the world brings them no joy at all, and if they are to celebrate Christmas, they would prefer to make it about almost anything else other than Jesus.
For other people, the Christian faith is old news. Maybe they’ve been coming to church all their lives and they’ve heard every possible sermon on the coming of Jesus, and sung every possible carol about His birth in a stable. Maybe they used to go to Sunday school as a child, and they’ve heard all the familiar stories told time after time. So they’re not exactly hostile to the Christmas message. It’s just that it doesn’t particularly interest them. Their focus is more on who is going to win Strictly or whether Argyle are going to stay up, or indeed on making sure they actually manage to see their family this year.
But for the first Christians, there was no doubt – the message of Jesus coming into the world was good news. I don’t mean that they simply thought the Christian faith was a good idea, or they went round with a big smile on their face all day. No, I mean that the good news of Jesus was so revolutionary and life-changing that the moment they heard about it, they immediately changed their priorities, their hopes and their dreams. They left behind family, friends, jobs and businesses to become part of this extraordinary movement called the church. They embraced their fellow believers as their brothers and sisters and shared their whole lives with them. Together they willingly suffered persecution, arrest and on occasion even death. Read the rest of this entry »