When Christmas hurts

Christmas is not always a time of joy and peace. There are years when you cannot celebrate, when grief, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, illness, or other life events mean that the season seems dark or empty. Sometimes it may simply be that the commercialism and busyness of Christmas is too much.

Join us then for The Longest Night – a service for when Christmas hurts, at St John’s Church, Hale Road, GU9 9AB, on Wednesday, December 18, at 7.30pm.

This simple service gives time for peace and reflection and offers words of comfort and support for those dealing with grief and hardship.

Everyone is welcome, whatever their beliefs.

Picture by Anne Nygard on Unsplash

 

Advent 3 – John the Baptist

Matthew 11:2-11

What is the source of John’s question?

  • Was it asked on his own behalf, or on behalf  of others?
  • Was it a question of impatience – when was Jesus going to start judging, or was it one of misunderstanding the role of Messiah.
  • Did John know Jesus was the Messiah before he was imprisoned?  Or is it dawning on him?  This requires that we assume that the author of this pericope did not know Matthew 3:14ff.

The answers Jesus give are oblique.  One approach is to look at the political situation – If Jesus had said “yes” then Herod would have heard this on the rumour mill, and it would have been a direct challenge.  By quoting scripture Jesus can claim Messiahship without upsetting Herod.  

However, in the answers all the evidence of what Jesus is doing involves compassion and healing rather than judgement and condemnation.  John preached divine holiness with divine judgement and destruction – see last weeks winnowing fork and axe – Jesus preaches divine holiness and love.  Perhaps this is why John is asking – Jesus doesn’t match with his expectation.

Jesus questions about John are in fact a questioning of Herod – again however, without providing Herod with enough evidence to hang him.

a reed shaken by the wind can mean two things

  • a proverb for the commonest sights
  • a weak waverer

Herod’s coins had a symbol of a reed on them, and Herod himself was seen as a waverer.  John was neither of these.  People do not go out into the desert to see either.

soft/luxurious robes were the sign of a courtier – a flatterer of Kings – which was far from John.

Prophets have a message from God and the courage to deliver it.  John was certainly this.

Elijah was expected to return before the Messiah and Jesus gives him this role.

Why was John less that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven?  One interpretation is that “the least in the Kingdom of Heaven means Jesus.  But if all are considered members of the Kingdom of Heaven then John had not seen the crucifixion, the demonstration of the love of God.  As above John has been preaching destruction – hardly Good News – but Jesus preached and then lived out God’s love and all in the Kingdom of Heaven know this.

Christmas celebrations!

Christmas is really getting going here in Badshot Lea and Hale. There were not one, not two but three carol services at the weekend (with help from Badshot Lea Village Infant School and William Cobbett Primary School) as well as our Christmas Carol Extravaganza on Emily the organ plus lunch on Saturday; Post19 holding a Christmas concert at St John’s last week, and Tootsiesthere today.

Tonight there are carols at the Hale Institute at 6.30pm. We will welcome William Cobbett School and Farnham Heath End School to St John’s at the end of the week and of course there is the Worship for All Carol Service this Sunday at 11.30am at St George’s, are our Crib Services on Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass at each of the churches to see in Christmas and Christmas Day all-age services. Don’t forget Journey to Bethlehem on Friday, leaving St Mark’s and St George’s at 7pm and following the star and the donkeys all the way to St John’s. Dressing up as a Nativity character is optional but encouraged!

Tomorrow, if you need a time of quiet, or if celebrations leave you cold at the moment, we have The Longest Night at St John’s at 7.30pm. A service for those for whom Christmas hurts, or who just need a time of reflection.

All the details are here.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Pictured above and below are Christmas celebrations by Post19.

Post19 Christmas 2019 3