Only eight sleeps till Christmas. Decorations are already up, the Christmas trees are flashing away, Christmas lists are being written, Christmas songs are blasting away in the retail centres. But also candles are being lit, carols are being sung and our hearts are beginning to fill with expectation and hope. Let us worship God.
Hymn 326: As with gladness men of old
I thought I would start with the message of that first Christmas.
But instead of reading it from the Bible I thought I would read it from my native language.
You see I come from a far off exotic place called Glasgow.
And Glasgow has a language all to itself.
It is very difficult to understand, especially if you speak at the speed that you are meant to.
Only the finest, sharpest of minds have ever truly understood the nuances of the language. It’s a bit like Chinese only more complicated.
So to help you I thought I would give you some language lessons to start off with...
(From Spill the Beans)
Bairn pronounced bearn, definition child
Bonnie pr. bon-nee, def. nice, pretty
Crabbit pr. krab-it, def. grumpy
Haver pr. hay-ver, def. talk too much
Hoachin pr. hoe-chin, def. really busy crowd
Manky pr. man-kee, def. filthy
Scran pr. sc-ran, def. food
Shoogle pr. shoe-gull, def. wobbly
Shuftey pr. shuff-tee, def. to have a wee peek
Sleekit pr. slee-kit, def. cunning/Sly
Wheesht pr. whee-sht, def. be quiet
Once upon a time, an angel of the Lord, came to a young girl called Mary, and told her that she was going to have a bairn and she was to call him Jesus.
Mary was a bonnie lass and she was engaged to be married to a man called Joseph, who didn’t believe what Mary told him about having a baby, and he told
her that she just haver’d too much, and that such a thing was impossible.
Joseph was crabbit for days, until an angel visited him and told him to trust Mary.
Now a man called Quirinius ordered a Census throughout all the land, and instructed everyone to return to their own place of birth.
Joseph was from Bethlehem, which meant a very long journey, which was not easy when Mary was heavily pregnant.
When they arrived in Bethlehem it was hoachin with people, and there was no place for Mary and Joseph to stay. All they were offered was a manky stable by a kind innkeeper.
Out on the hillside that night were some shepherds, sitting eating their scran and watching their sheep, when the skies were lit up with a heavenly choir singing to them that a bairn had been born in Bethlehem who was Christ the Lord.
They made their way into Bethlehem to visit the bairn, and when they got to the stable they say Jesus lying in a manger and they got to shoogle him off to sleep.
They were not the only ones interested in this bairn called Jesus.
There were wise men from the east who had followed a star all the way to Bethlehem, and they popped in and asked King Herod, who was a sleekit man, and told the wise men that if they find this bairn they should report his whereabouts
back to him.
The wise men did not trust Herod, and when they found the bairn in the stable, they had a wee shuftey at him, and left him some presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh and left Bethlehem by another route.
Wheesht now everyone. It is time we left Mary, Joseph and the wee bairn Jesus to get some rest!
323: The first Nowell
The three signs of Christmas
OK round the church there are four signs of Christmas hidden.
They are in very easy places to find because the fabric group insisted that I don’t do anything to damage the new pew cushions.
So if people suggest where they might be then some of my helpers can go and get them.
Sheep: There is a game called Simone says, do you know the game. It is a very easy game. If I say Simone says then you do it and if I don't say Simone says then you don't do it.
Right everyone put up there hand when they are ready to start the game.
All you people are out, because I didn't say, ‘Simone says put up your hand when you are ready to start the game.’
And that is one of the big problems with life.
If we want to have the life God wants for us, then we have to do as he says, but often we think to our self...’When do we start?’
And the trust is to have the best life that God would want for us we should have started the moment we were born.
Because every day we don't follow God’s guidance is a day that we don't have the life we should have.
And we think it is a bit like Simon says. Because it looks like we have lost the game before we even knew we had started playing the game.
And if we are going to lose anyway then what is the point of playing? So we just give up.
That was the way the shepherds felt.
Nobody liked shepherds. If anything went missing the shepherds were accused of stealing it.
Shepherds were smelly so no one wanted to talk to them or be near them.
But on that first Christmas the angels came to them and told them about Jesus.
Because God through Jesus was showing us that we always had another chance to start fresh with God. To start finding the life that God would want us to have.
Frankincense. Anyone know what this is?
This is frankincense. It was one of the gifts given by the wise men. Frankincense was used by priests as they prayed. They would light the frankincense and they smoke of the incense rising would be a symbol of their prayers rising to God.
And they Gave Jesus this gift because his life would be a life where he was always talking to God, always seeking the best for others.
And that made me think a bit.
We always think really hard about what we would like for Christmas.
And if you are old enough to buy presents for others, we should think really hard about what presents we give to those we love.
But do we think about what our present to God would be?
What do you think God would want for Christmas?
For us to care for others as he cares for us.
Last sign of Christmas.
Star. This is the last sign of Christmas and it reminds us of the wise men who followed the star.
Here’s my question. What if a new star appeared tonight? How would we know it was a special star that we should be following?
Seriously, is there anyone in this church that if a new star appeared they would know?
How many people would even be looking for a new star?
You know what those wise men needed to do to follow the star.
They needed to have spent their whole lives studying the stars in the first place. Then when they saw a brand new one they didn't recognise that had to then work out what to do about it. They could have spent their whole lives studying the stars and they see a new one and do nothing but watch the star from their observatory.
So they had to study the stars all their lives, then decided to follow it once it appeared.
So if God was talking to us in the same way today...a new star could appear but we might not know that because they all look the same to us.
And we could spend our whole lives not knowing the right thing to do.
This is why God sent Jesus.
Because all that complicated stuff just gets in the way.
So God sent Jesus to make it easy.
He gave us two bits of advice, only two.
Just always love God, if you always love God that will guide you to do the right thing eventually.
Then with the love that God gives us love others in the same way.
If we do those two things, just those two things, then we will find God in our lives, and God will help us always to do the right thing.
Let us pray:
There are so many signs of Christmas coming.
The shops are full of presents, there are Christmas trees everywhere, decorations surround us. Advent calendars are opening up and grown up as preparing fro Christmas meals and family parties.
Help us to see the signs of Christmas that you give us. Signs that you want to be part of our lives, signs that show us the way we should live our lives.
And help us to follow those signs and know your love and peace within us.
This we ask in Jesus name.
Hymn 329: O little Love (tune: O waly waly)
Lord, at this time of year, help us to see the greatest gift of all is the fellowship that we have with you, and the fellowship that you give to us though others.
May we love and be loved, care and be cared for, open at all times to the wonders of relationship.
Hymn 316: Love came down at Christmas.