Reflection for Sunday After Christmas Day

December 22, 2020

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame;

in your righteousness deliver me.

Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily.

Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;

for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,

take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. My times are in your hand;

deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.”

This is a passage from Psalm 31. It is a song, a lamentation, which delves into the Psalmist’s grief and sorrow, and written by the person during a troubling, even a dangerous, time.

The singer is praying to God, asking Him for that which every person sees before their mind’s eye, as being their immediate need, who is longing for a place where he or she can feel safe, secure, and and above all loved. There is danger present and the need is to find a safe place.

The Psalm cries out to God for help, the singer calls on God as his refuge. For a person to have found refuge is for her or him to be safe, to feel safe, and be sheltered from danger. The words of the song make very clear that the singer places his trust and hope in God; he believes absolutely that God is able to provide for his life and future.

Even though the Psalm singer is hurting, struggling, he knows that God remains beside him, always, and loves him, no matter what. Like Mary, at Martha’s protestation to Our Lord, that she should not sit at His feet, but help her prepare, the Psalm singer has, as Jesus replies to Martha, chosen his lot and shall not have it taken away from him

Let’s look at this Psalm and its earnestness and appeal to certainty, in the light of this present COVID-19 pandemic which has changed and continues to change our lives profoundly. For us of late also there has been much to mourn and lament. Many. most of us, had perhaps hoped to spend our Christmas with family or friends, and of course this conviviality is no longer happening.

For you, the younger ones, and the more active ones, who are reading this my message, maybe you’re missing the birthday parties, or else the music festivals? Perhaps a favourite restaurant is closed? Possibly your bigger plans – or maybe just your smaller ones – are all erased, deemed as though they had never been on the calendar? I know that some of you like me will merely be sadly longing to see certain friends’ faces, in the flesh, and not via Zoom nor behind a mask, but for real. Lots of us just feel tired, apprehensive, and uncertain

Pandemics and governments cannot cancel Christmas, however; it is not within their gift or remit to do so. Christmas, as The Superlative, Unshakeable Fact of all history and of The Cosmos and of Eternity. It will not go away. It is the celebration of The Birth of The Saviour of All Created Things.

Our folks traditions in Britain have The Event of events happening in wintertime. Our carols reflect this convention.

In the Bleak Midwinter...

When the snow lay round about..

On the Feast of Stephen...

Winter, midwinter, is the hardest time of year; with cold and frosts, higher bills, less outdoor activities, slippery pavements, noise and dirt of traffic, and much more; altogether they tend to help depress a mood or curb an enthusiasm. Add the current virus troubles to that and you have the world’s present unhappiness.

The great thing is, that Jesus tells us:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world

For all that the world, or the powers of darkness, can throw at us, we are, and remain always God’s beloved. Created in his image, God is our refuge and strength. That God whose Son came at The First Christmas, and who has never gone away, and who has never been not present, is Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ, who has made it his place to dwell with us.

Reflection Sunday after Christmas Day

We celebrate the birth of Jesus. We have our Bibles, the inspired Word of God, which tell us that He is the Saviour of the world, is our Saviour. Saint John in his gospel at Chapter 3:verse 17, tells us that

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”

and that:

I**n Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  *[Th]( Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.*

The Gospel of Matthew and that of Gospel of Luke tell us, beginning at the beginning, right up front because it is so important, that that Child born to Mary is to be called Jesus. Jesus is that name ordained by God that His Son should take for His earthy Incarnation. It is the same root name as ‘Joshua’, that is ‘Yeshu'a’, and it means “Yahweh is Salvation’

The Lord Jesus came to us so that we would be enabled by Him to stand before God, and be sorry, be repentant; but believing, and with love, hope, truth, faith, in our hearts, so as to be fit for Divine Mercy to be exercised upon us, and so be seeking for God’s loving gift of Salvation.

The Birth of Jesus, The First Christmas, began that sequence of events pre-ordained by God, and laid out in depth by his prophets and by the other inspired writers of The Old Testament. The sequence of events was finished, in the sense that Jesus uses the word finished on The Cross, that is to say, polished, and made whole, by His Death followed by His Resurrection. Jesus the Christ came to us, to you and to me, to pay the price for our transgressions, yours and mine - for our sins He came.

His love for us compelled him to come.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (**John’s gospel)

This verse from St John is known as The Golden verse; because it states concisely Jesus’ mission; and this is why we should celebrate with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls, His birth at Christmas.

St Paul adds a remarkable observation to this overwhelming love of God:

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is Good News! It is The Good News! ...Good News that comes with its challenges..

By each of us having been privileged to know Jesus poses great challenges to each of us and to us all. Our greatest challenge, as each of us being a bare human being, consists in how we should respond to Him. Jesus told us what is the response He and The Father expect of us, it is called in Greek the ‘kerygma’. It is our repenting of our sins and our believing wholeheartedly what the Bible tells us about God, and thereby trusting, giving-over, our lives to Him. The kerygma is to be accepted by us as being the birth, mission, cross, death, resurrection, and ascension of The Christ, all for our sakes. This is the step of faith. It is life changing to experience it. Always. It is not a side-issue that Jesus talks about our personal faith occurring to us as we have “born again”. Becoming a Christian is a the life change; bigger than that which a new baby brings to a home. All of life every moment is affected, altered, for us. We see all things anew. “Nothing that was made that was not made by Him’ *says St John, *and this everything is changed for us, and utterly.

Look at your nativity set or any images of The Baby Jesus you might have, and let those be your meditation helps, and remind yourself of that call, that ‘having been plucked-out, separated, made partaker of Heaven’s joys’, that Jesus gifts to you, and recall also that He requires of you who are born anew and of the Spirit, much, as much as you can offer.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Or as a late Dean of Paul’s defined Holy Charity:

Doing what one can; all one can’

Jesus Christ stands before us yesterday, today, and forever; inviting us to take important decisions about our lives for his sake. Eternity with Him is a side issue; don’t think on it; remember.

seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all other things will be given to you as well.’

His nail-pierced hands are extended; they say, to me, to you, "I have given you My all. Give you your all to Me.’