A Christmas message from the Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson.
I love Ian McMillan’s take on Christmas:
Three wise men, a stable, two sheep
One manger, one baby asleep,
Bright star high above,
Some lowing, some love,
a story as wide as it’s deep.
It’s wide because it seems to have something for almost everybody. It’s deep because it stirs our imaginations on many levels.
Just lying in the manger Jesus calls into question, radically, some popular but damaging fantasies about God.
One is Action Man Pocket God — the superhero, turbo-charging goodies and zapping baddies. If Action Man Pocket God is in command, why’s everything such a mess? At best, says Woody Allen, he’s a bit of an underachiever.
Superheroes play God. But Jesus isn’t playing God. He is God. And real God gives us genuine freedom to be ourselves, not just puppets.
Cue another fantasy God — that he’s a kind of watchmaker who made the world, wound it up, then popped back up to heaven while it all ran down.
No. Jesus is here in the thick of it, one of us — not an idea, but our own flesh and blood. We are never alone.
The final casualty of Christmas is the idea that God is just a Great Spirit — all around in some creepy mysterious way, but never anywhere in particular. Being a Great Spirit means all cares about is Religion. Experience? Money? Work? Sexuality? Art? Science? Life? He’s above all that.
Jesus isn’t. He’s in the thick of it. The baby in the manger shows us God is here and now one of us.
Love came down at Christmas. The miracle and beauty of every human life is that it’s a gift of God, deserving total respect, full of hope.
We don’t need politicians, soldiers or celebrities to sort us out, working from the outside in.
We just need to start again, from the inside out.