In 3 days I went to 3 very different celebrations. The first was a surprise birthday party to which people had travelled far and wide to attend. The food was great, the company even better and the banter was both hilarious and deeply significant. The birthday recipient was honoured with moving tributes about loyalty, dependability, vulnerability and faith. The speeches all told about how this person gave himself so freely to help restore the broken and lost, often requiring great patience, time and faith. Amidst the celebration I think I got a glimpse of the incarnational splendour of Christ, the creator powerful God in absolute humility and vulnerability being with us (the broken and the lost) through Jesus. Truly at Christmas we celebrate ‘God is with us’
The next day was Bethlehem the Musical … ‘Bethlehem, Bethlehem, say hello to Bethlehem’ Yes, I’ve had that song running through my head all week too. This was a celebration of the wealth of talent and diversity we have at RBC. In both cast and behind the scenes we had such a spread of ages it was amazing to see performers from approximately 8 – 80 on stage together. Behind the corny jokes was an incredibly challenging message about hospitality, community and welcome which is very apt for our Brexit dominated times. The glimpse of Christmas was not the rather fetching nativity costumes but the message of God’s utter humility. It’s hard to capture how insignificant places like Bethlehem and Nazareth were in biblical times, much like a run-down, out of season, passed its sell by date holiday village. Yet that’s where God chose to manifest – not the bright shiny big city- what does that tell us about God? A huge thanks to the cast and crew of this magnificent show.
The next day was a celebration of a great person’s life at a service of thanksgiving. Again, the church was full, guests coming from far and wide to pay tribute. There was a beautiful balance between acknowledging the staggering pain and sadness that comes with bereavement and loss whilst celebrating the hope, faith and assurance that Christians have. This is where my faith makes so much sense to me. This hope we have though is only possible through the Christmas story. Our God knows what it means to live and die. Truly he is with us.
There’s a few more celebrations still to come. Later today the staff team are having their Christmas ‘do’. This team work incredibly hard, often going above and beyond the job description to help RBC function as it should. So, it’s good to get together out of the building, and let our hair down and have a few laughs.
On Sunday we are celebrating what looks to be a beautiful carol service, with traditional hymns and readings. I am so looking forward to this service which will provide us with that pause we all need to stop, re-centre and focus on what Christmas is all about.
May the joy of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, the worship of the wise men and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas; and the blessing of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you always,
Have a wonderful Christmas