be vigilant

Tonight at the church we are holding a Christmas vigil. It is an attempt to offer a gentle, peaceful reflection in this wonderful season that can be very busy for everyone. It will hopefully be a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the preparations for Christmas and an opportunity for us to experience God’s presence and blessing. We don’t hold a Christmas Eve midnight communion but we will be sharing communion tonight instead. (If you are available and interested it’s at 8pm at Colchester Baptist Church).

Sharing communion at Christmas ought to be wrong. We are celebrating Christ’s birth, not his death and resurrection, but somehow it feels exactly the right thing to do. To quote another carol: “Christians, awake! salute the happy morn”

O may we keep and ponder in our mind
God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind;
trace we the babe, who has retrieved our loss,
from his poor manger to his bitter cross;
tread in his steps, assisted by his grace,
till our first heavenly state again takes place.

Without the cross of Jesus his birth is a cute story alone. It has been fascinating watching the BBC adaptation of The Nativity (worth watching on BBC iplayer if you missed it). The realism of the portrayal and the reaction of people to Mary’s unorthodox pregnancy is brilliant and has brought the nativity alive in a fresh way. What was wonderful was the interview on the radio with Tony Jordan when he said that he saw this as part of a trilogy about Jesus. It is not a stand-alone story but the beginning of a series of events that culminate with Christ’s death and resurrection.

(I have to say that I completely disagree with Stephen Green of Christian Voice who has criticised The Nativity as a liberal attack on the Christian faith. I don’t see any of the problems he sees with it and rejoice that such a faithful representation of the Christmas story has such a high profile place in the BBC programming schedule this year. Hallelujah and thank you Auntie Beeb!)

(And on a related subject, Chris Evans’ Breakfast Show on Radio 2 from the Archbishop of York’s palace with Archbishop John Sentamu has been brilliant too!)

A woman takes her 16-year-old daughter to the doctor. The doctor says, “Okay, Mrs. Jones, what’s the problem?”

The mother says, “It’s my daughter, Debbie. She keeps getting these cravings, she’s putting on weight, and is sick most mornings.”

The doctor gives Debbie a good examination, then turns to the mother and says, “Well, I don’t know how to tell you this, but your Debbie is pregnant – about 4 months would be my guess.”

The mother says, “Pregnant?! She can’t be, she has never ever been left alone with a man! Have you, Debbie?”

Debbie splutters and protests her innocence, “No mother! I’ve never even kissed a man!”

The doctor walked over to the window and just stares out it. About five minutes pass and finally the mother says, “Is there something wrong out there doctor?”

The doctor replies, “No, not really, it’s just that the last time anything like this happened, a star appeared in the east and three wise men came over the hill. I’ll be darned if I’m going to miss it this time!”

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