From Rev Jim Williams
The birth of Jesus is a reminder that life has a meaning beyond our knowledge and understanding.
At Christmas time we celebrate the historical fact and the mystery of the birth of the Messiah Jesus in Bethlehem. His birth changed the course of human history forever.
We all hold some kind of faith whether we are “religious” or not, everyone holds some kind of faith. For Christians, it is faith in a loving, compassionate God shown to us by Jesus, born into our world and still present through our own personal experience and religious tradition. Some others may put their faith in the satisfaction gained from such things as success, or relationships or power.
Many people say that they are not “religious”, but they are “spiritual”, and this is an acknowledgement that life is more than just what we see. All humans are attracted to goodness and altruism. All humans seek some way to self-improve. Most humans reach out to those around them who are less fortunate than themselves.
In the Fylde and Wyre area we are surrounded by beauty of nature. Through our friends, families, and neighbours we are lifted when we see deeds of great sacrifice and generosity. We acknowledge that there is something greater than us, something which expands human horizons.
Sometimes those who are spiritual but not religious condemn those of faith. We fail to live up to our ideals of love and forgiveness. We get tied up in the minutia of religion rather than the spirit of what our faith is all about. Jesus warned against this when he spoke of the double standards of the Pharisees whom he described as “whited sepulchres” (Matt 23:27) – meaning people who are inwardly corrupt but outwardly virtuous. For Christian believers and the church as a whole, there is always room to grow as we reach towards the goodness and holiness of God.
We live in a post-truth world where everything is a matter of opinion or fake news. We seem to no longer want to hold common beliefs or common values.
“Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?”
Until recently such questions would have engaged whole cultures, philosophies, and sciences. We’ve been doing this since the beginning of human history. There was a shared recognition that outside of human knowledge and understanding there is something transcendent – a reality beyond our limited vision and experience, which affects everybody – a spiritual heritage of humanity.
In today’s world, science reveals truths about what once was supposition. We apply rationality to what was superstition and mystery. Yet individually we continue to look for meaning and purpose.
Many post-truthers feel that faith and science cannot live side by side. This isn’t new. For 2000 years, through the person of Jesus, Christianity was not an exclusive sect. Before his birth, the people of the known world lived by the great theological or philosophical traditions of the Greek and Roman civilizations and the revelations given by God to the Jewish people.
The rise of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus was very public and its first adherents were Jews, Romans, and Greeks. It was open to all and offered a rational account of God and of the creation and destiny of humanity which came to fulfilment in the person of Jesus Christ.
And is it true? And is it true?
The most tremendous tale of all,
A Baby in an ox’s stall
The Maker of the stars and seas
Become a child on earth for me?
John Betjeman – Christmas
Whilst our “religious” observations may need to change to better reflect our post-truth culture – our faith does not. We worship and glorify an unchanging truth brought to us through the advent cry of an infant.
The love of Christ be with you this Christmas.