New beginnings

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What is man that thou are mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him (Psalm 8:4)

Imagine that when you open your eyes tomorrow morning it’s for the very first time. Everything you see is new; the first leaf, cloud, drop of rain, sunrise and flower. How exciting but also challenging for your brain to process and make sense of. But that is the essence of “mindfulness” a psychological treatment used to help emotionally disturbed people (and others) tackle their difficulties. “Mindfulness” is about living, uncritically, in the “now” without looking backwards or forwards. So, for example, when you make your coffee you linger on every aspect of the method e.g. filling the kettle, switching it on, the steam, the aroma, the sound of the spoon and so on – all with undivided attention but without judgement. Now, imagine that today is the first time you’ve heard about Jesus, God, the cross, the Holy Spirit, forgiveness and eternal-life – brand new (without the baggage of denominations, doctrines and Church history). How powerful is that! Jesus speaking directly to you for the very first time devoid of all things “religious.” This is how I suggest we think about Christmas. In fact don’t let’s call it “Christmas” which comes loaded with Jingle-Bells, puddings, stockings, cards and all the other paraphernalia which adds little to our understanding of Jesus’ mission to the world. Jesus born at Bethlehem is an astonishing event which defies analysis, comprehension and manipulation. It is greater, even, than the so-called “Big Bang.” In fact Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the “Big Bang” who was with God before the first dawn was unveiled. Jesus’ birth has consequences for the entire world, its peoples, its destiny, its salvation and its conclusion. So, those in Paris (and elsewhere) who set out to murder God’s creation, in the name of some evil ideology, will pay a heavy price for their rebellion – for love is balanced by judgement. Jesus’ birth is about love whereas Satan feeds on darkness, hatred, division, fear and mistrust. But Satan is a defeated enemy even though he stalks the earth scaring the insecure. But Jesus is here! No wonder wise men flocked to see him. For Jesus is God with us; God with a heart-beat, (down here not up there) breathing in a body and present in the mayhem to restore order. Bethlehem was a unique moment, a “mindfulness” moment to linger over and reflect upon. So, even though we’re carrying sorrow in our hearts this Christmas because of man’s callousness and brutality, Jesus comes as if for the first time to flood our lives, our communities and our world with the light, the beauty and the blessings of his love. A love that is able to settle us and free us from anxiety; a love that is able to heal us of our pain and secure us in his kingdom of peace. Anything less would be to deny ourselves the joy, the wonder and the enormity of God’s patience and forbearance towards us – all as if for the first time. Imagine that and the chains fall off! Imagine that and it’s yours! Make it part of your Advent preparations for the long-expected “moment” of revelation is coming. Amazing! Frère, soeur, permettez-moi de vous servir permettez-moi d’être comme le Christ pour vous.

Derek Marsh