Phew! Christmas has just flashed past in a blur of hyper-excited grandchildren, limited sleep, eating, and church services. But today, on Boxing Day, as sales claim attention, perhaps the Christmas story and carols already seem just a little jaded and faded.
Much depends on how connected Christmas is with the rest of our lives. A lady at Calvary Memorial Church told me a few weeks ago that she had kept her Christmas telephone answerphone greeting on all year. 'Merry Christmas 'sounded right through Spring, Summer and Fall. ' When people asked me why I hadn't changed my message,' she said, 'I told them it was deliberate. That the Christmas message - to you is born a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord - is for every day of the year.' She also said that a sermon of mine last year had prompted her to do this!
On Christmas Day, Carol and I returned to Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood, London, where she was converted and baptised as a teenager, we were married and I was ordained. It is many years since we sat in the pews. I was given the letter 'R' beforehand. As the message spelt out the Christmas story by the letters C H R I S T M A S, I was called up to sit at the front. And what did 'R' stand for? Rescue. Throughout most of the service I sat at with the other letter-holders looking back down this church. It hit me hard how through forty-two years, since my vows in that place, Christ's rescue had held me firm. That looking back at those once so familiar stained glass windows, remembering faces of family and friends now in glory, in my vows as a bridegroom, as a new pastor, Jesus Christ had never let me go.
As I continue to think of my upcoming sermon series on promises I want to keep 2 Cor. 1:19 in mind: 'In him, the Son of God, Jesus Christ it is always 'Yes'. For in him every one of God's promises is a 'Yes.' Seeing Jesus as a 'Yes' to the promises God makes about life and its meaning connects him with everything else. And, by his grace, that's not going to fade or jade.