As we look forward to celebrating all that Christmas brings, I want to think about ‘Five C’s’ which help to summarise the story of Jesus’ birth.

Cradle: Jesus wasn’t born in the luxurious splendour of a palace or a hotel, he was born in the squalor of a stable and a manger (a feeding trough for animals) was used as a makeshift cradle! We’ve sanitised the birth of Jesus to appear all cute and lovely, but the reality is something quite different. Jesus didn’t just tell us from a distance that he loved us. He entered this world, as the poorest of the poor, and put his love into action.

Cross: Jesus did many astonishing things in his lifetime: he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and brought the love of God into the lives of the outcasts and marginalised – but he made some enemies along the way and was nailed to a cross for his sins and paid the penalty for ‘The sins of the whole world.’ The truth is we can’t speak of Christmas without thinking of Easter, because whilst Jesus was born to be our Saviour, he was born to die. And it wasn’t a pleasant death wrapped up in tinsel and glitter and bells and bows accompanied by singing choirs and Christmas lights, but an agonising death on a cross.

Crown: Whilst Jesus was given a crown of thorns to wear before his death, we believe that when he rose again from the dead on that first Easter Sunday and ascended into heaven to sit at the Father’s side, he was given an altogether different crown to wear: the crown of the King of heaven. This is why every Christmas cracker (first invented in 1845 by Tom Smith to teach his children the story of Jesus’ birth) includes a paper crown to remind us that Jesus was born to be King: King of heaven; King of the world and King of our lives.

Choice: Can you imagine giving someone a present on Christmas morning this year and they don’t open it?  It would be silly wouldn’t it?  What about if this time next year they still hadn’t opened it! You’d ask: “Why haven’t you opened your present?” What if they responded: “Oh, the paper’s so colourful and it’s wrapped so beautifully, it seems a shame to spoil it. It looks so lovely on the table.  I’ll open it one of these days!”  You’d think they were losing the plot, wouldn’t you? Many of you have celebrated Christmas for as long as you can remember. You know the carols and the pop songs and the story of the birth of Jesus inside out – but you’ve never made the choice to unwrap the gift to see what the celebration is really all about.

Celebration: No-one in history has had such an impact on the world and affected our morals, values and ethnics than Jesus. But he never owned an office, never wrote a book, never received a university degree, never owned a house and never travelled more than 200 miles from the place of his birth.  He did none of the things we associate with powerful and important people and yet we still celebrate his birthday as one of the most significant events to have taken place in the history of the world … ever! In the words of the well loved carol by John Wade, our response has to be: O come, let us adore Him; O come, let us adore Him; O come, let us adore Him; Christ the Lord.

May I invite you, and your family, to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas this year? Might you be willing to make that choice? As you do, I pray that the Joy of the Angels, the Eagerness of the Shepherds, the Perseverance of the Wise Men, the Obedience of Joseph and Mary, the Peace of Jesus and God’s richest blessing will fill your hearts and lives this Christmas season and in the year to come.

This is a copy of my article for the December 2017 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

Details of events at Emmanuel, Billericay can be found here
Christmas Leaflet 2017
Christmas Poster 2017 (A4)