St Georges Hyde


December & January 2017 Letter:

Readers Letter - Andrew Dawson has … One way of putting it

Imagine what winter would be like without Christmas!  Maybe you think there would be no office parties, no stockings, no roast turkeys, no presents and no puddings?  Well, you’re wrong!  I’m sure people would go on making merry in December.  And that would be good in itself.  And, in fact people did make merry in December before Jesus was born.  The different peoples of the continent of Europe made merry on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice.  They prayed to their gods to bring back the warm sun of the spring.

But imagine what life would be like without the truth of Christmas, if the Creator of the universe had not been born a human being.

Without the historical fact of Jesus, we would have much less evidence for believing that God exists at all.  Belief might be a matter of personal taste:  ‘I’ll believe what I want to believe, and I’ll let others believe what they want to believe.’  But wanting to believe in someone is not a sure basis for a belief.

Without the historical fact of Jesus, it would be harder to believe that God cares about us:  if I suffer, what would God feel about it, all- powerful Creator that he is?

Without the historical fact of Jesus, it would easier for us to take advantage of those weaker than ourselves .  If they are not of the same stuff as Jesus, made in the image of God, they would be of value to us only they were of use to us financially, and of use to us in our relationships.

If Jesus had not been born to a teenage girl who was almost an unmarried mum, if Jesus had not been born to a craftsman, it would have been hard to believe that God can make himself known to all of us. Instead, we might have thought that God reveals himself only to Vicars and other people who look holier than us or to those who read lots of books or watch BBC2 or Channel 4.

If Jesus had not been born in a stable full of animals, if the angels had not come to the shepherds and sung praises with them to Jesus,  if God had not guided the wise men through their astrology, we would not have known how much God rejoices in animals and all of his creation, in family life and the birth of babies, in the giving and receiving of presents.

If Jesus had not been pursued by King Herod, if he had not had to escape into Egypt, if he had not been crucified on a Roman cross, we would have realised how vulnerable God is.  Instead, we would keep our own injuries and resentments to ourselves, for fear that if God knew the whole truth about us he would reject us.

Life in the other 364 days of the year would be very bleak if the event which Christmas celebrates was not true.  But it is true.  There is more evidence for Jesus, that he lived in Galilee 2000 years ago than there is for the existence of any of the Roman Emperors.  And there is overwhelming evidence both that Jesus was killed on a cross, and that he was raised victorious over death. I’d be happy to discuss this further with anybody or lend you a short paperback.

What do you do with your frustration and anger when things go wrong? Do you off-load your emotions on to your spouse or partner?  Onto to your children, your boss, your work-mates?  On to yourself, or Life in General?  All of us, including me,  are tempted  in those ways from time to time. When we blame ‘Life in General’, we blame him who created Life in General.  When we blame ourselves or some other person, we are blaming him who created us or them. This is the way in which God makes himself known to those of us who want him:  he has made himself vulnerable in Jesus.  He allows himself to get hurt.  He takes the blame. He died of it.  But he was raised undefeated.  He is alive – alongside us, willing to listen.                    

Happy Christmas!