This month's message from our minister, Andy.
I remember well the time some years ago when Britain underwent a deep sociological change. The need to boost the collective self-esteem of those who worked in blue-collar jobs spawned a host of ridiculous job titles. Who can forget when we lost our traditional bin-men and acquired ‘waste management and disposal technicians’? Under some council authorities, swimming pool lifeguards rather amusingly became ‘wet leisure assistants’, and librarians became information managers. In Manchester, the City Treasurer’s Office has become a Corporate Services Directorate – Finance Division, whilst the Town Clerk has evolved into Corporate Services Directorate – Law and Administration, and one museum tourist guide was gloriously retitled a ‘Coordinator of Interpretive Teaching’. If only those officials who decided upon the change had stuck with ‘Guide’ rather than ‘Coordinator’, the acronym could have been a cause of endless mirth for parties of schoolchildren touring the museum.
It’s all very amusing but, alas, even the church is not beyond redefining its message, its stories, and sometimes even its social mores in an effort to move with the times and make itself more appealing. Nowhere is this more evident than at Christmas when wise men take to motorbikes and angels dance to heavenly hip-hop. Granted, that’s unusual, but believe it or not, it has been done!
For some, the Christmas story is no more than a myth on a par with Santa. Jesus, like St. Nicholas, may or may not have some historical basis, but how could a baby born in a stable, or a man executed on a cross have any relevance for me today? There are other, more attractive heroes and role models than Jesus, and more tangible benefits for life than ‘acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8) or ‘loving our neighbour as ourselves’ (Matthew 19:19).
It would be wrong though to see those things as reasons for faith; rather, they are the results of faith - attitudes that come to us naturally once we truly understand the importance of who Jesus is and what he came to do.
However grandiose today’s job titles and role definitions are, they cannot hope to compare with these: Saviour of the world, Immanuel (‘God with us’), ‘Redeemer’ and ‘Resurrection and Life’. That’s a lot to live up to. Christians believe Jesus does, and that’s why Christmas is worth celebrating as the beginning of the one life that can transform our own.
On behalf of myself and the Methodist Church in Saxilby, may I wish you a blessed and peaceful Christmas. Andy Burrows
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