Richard Burgess, 12.12.2021.
Now everybody loves a story, look at all the books, films, plays… we immerse ourselves in them but they only captivate for a time…
Many today are lost and looking for a story, a transcendent one, one that unifies and gathers up and gives them hope.
The world we are living in, is becoming increasingly confusing and fragmented. It’s a world of individualism and pressure groups. A world that agrees that there is a measure of right and wrong, but it depends on who you are as to what it is, and what it looks like. So we have what has become known as ‘virtue signalling,’ endeavours to signal to a world this is what I believe in and value, and so should you. But there is no cohesiveness to it, and little if any patience for anybody who thinks differently. It is a merciless and graceless world, providing no opportunity for repentance and forgiveness. It has no basis other than its own assumed standards. Then there are those who are concerned about the planet and with it the future – is there one? It is world that has lost its bearings. A world adrift from its moorings. A world without a North Star. A world without a guide. A world without God.
In it all people are looking for meaning, direction, purpose. A way to make sense of it all. A transcendent story.
There is something in our psyche that wants to know and longs to be part of a story, a bigger story, that we are not accidental happenings in an accidental and meaningless world. A hopeless world. There’s something of eternity written into every human heart.
The Christmas story just does that, it tells us:
- That we are not merely biological accidents or ordinary individuals. God took on human flesh – he created it, it was sacred, made in his image. It gathers us up, and tells us in the words of C S Lewis that “there are no ordinary people… mere mortals… it is immortals we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit…”
- That we are also part of a bigger, grander, greater story and therefore the world is not meaningless but purposeful.
- That we share a common history, that we are not a disparate group of individuals disconnected from one another. The story though is marred by out fallenness and brokenness which impacts every area of life.
- That there is the possibility of redemption, forgiveness, new life, new hope, no matter who we are and what wrong we have done. The story is all about how Jesus can save us because of who he is – God in flesh.
- That there is a future because there is a God who not only creates and redeems but who will one day judge the earth in righteousness, and renew creation, delivering it from the curse. That the king who came the first time in lowliness, will come the second time in glory.
This then is not some fantasy written to delight us and transport us away, neither is it some fictitious story with a feel good factor or symbolic tale set in some mythical realm from which to derive some moral lesson – the gospel writers will not allow us that option… the incarnation is set firmly within an historical, geographical, political and religious context.