Thought for the Month (December 2008)

The following two verses appear in the Old Testament, 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts……' (Isaiah 55 v8,9)

The Christmas story is an amazing demonstration of the truth of this statement. If God were going to enter human affairs you and I would not have done it the way God did it! The hymn by John Bell and Graham Maule puts it this way:
Who would think that what was needed
might not be a plan or army
proud in purpose, proved in worth?
Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.

There are so many surprises about the Christmas story. Children born to someone who was too old to give birth and to a virgin, a reluctant husband convinced to go ahead by an angel, the birth in a humble stable, the announcement of the birth made to poor shepherds, kings who follow a star, and a ruthless, violent king determined to destroy what God was doing.

It does not pay to try to out-think God because our thoughts are not his thoughts and sometimes we just have to sit back in wonder. It was said of Mary and Joseph after they had presented Jesus in the temple that they marvelled at what was said about him. (Luke 2v33)

We, I believe, are called to a similar response. Christmas is a time for marvelling at what God has done. As Simeon put it when he saw the baby Jesus in the temple, 'For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.' (Luke 2 v30-32)

Let us rejoice that God did something so significant that the brief life of Jesus became the very pivot of human history. Salvation came in the form of a tiny defenceless baby who is still changing lives today.

Let us rejoice that what God did in Jesus Christ then is personal because it transforms our lives today. This is not just dusty old history. This is another of God's surprises, history that changes lives today.

Let us rejoice that we can know forgiveness for our sins and life in all its fullness, and it all started in a humble stable. This is not sentimental twaddle but history with a real punch!

A very happy Christmas to you all.

God bless, Bob and Karen

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church