Summary: A short but challenging all-age talk using a giant home-made ’Christingle’ (an orange with a red ribbon wrapped around, four sticks with fruit & sweets on & a white candle - all symbolism). God loves the world and sent Jesus as the Light of the World.

In November I spent two weeks in Rwanda; a small country in Africa. It is a most beautiful country. There are countless rolling green hills, many of them filled with banana trees. Fields are teeming with rice plantations and there are rows and rows of tea plants. Lake Kivu in the North is stunning. The National Park with its forest, its monkeys and the most amazing and colourful birds at times left me speechless. It reminded me of my love for the Highlands of Scotland, the Valleys of Wales and the Lake District.

What a beautiful world God created! The orange of our Christingle represents the world. The four sticks represent the seasons which God has wonderfully provided; seasons which in the UK bring warmth, water and plenty of food. On the sticks we place examples of God’s provision; but I like to keep one stick empty to remind me of people in our world who don’t have enough to eat today, even at Christmas.

We live in a world which contains much beauty; but a world which also contains mess, hatred, and war. Rwanda is a country which experienced mess, hatred and war in the genocide of 1994. Men did bad things to other men and women.

For years men have done terrible things to other men and women; and it is nearly always men who are to blame – not women.

Ever since God created men and women, we have rejected God’s ways. God loves peace. God loves truth. God loves patience. God loves kindness. God loves generosity. God loves faithfulness. God loves self-control. God loves his creation, but all too often we reject God’s ways; all too often we chose the path of darkness rather than the path of light; so 2000 years ago God himself came and lived amongst us. God came and lived amongst us as the baby Jesus who grew up to be Jesus the man.

When Jesus the baby grew up he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). That’s why in the top of the Christingle we have a white candle, reminding us of those words of Jesus.

[At this point I light the candle on my huge Christingle]

On another occasion Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46).

The problem is that many people wanted to get rid of Jesus. So-called ‘politically correct’ people still do! He was the most amazing baby and the most amazing man who ever lived but he challenged people’s selfish attitudes, so they arrested him, strapped him to a cross and killed him. The light of the world went out.

[At this point I blow out the candle on my Christingle]

The red ribbon reminds us of the blood of Jesus, but it also reminds me that by sending Jesus God was wrapping his arms right around us and around the world he loves so much to remind us of his great love.

On the cross it seemed like the light of Jesus had gone out, but three days later he burst from the tomb!

[At this point I re-light the candle]

Jesus was too good to stay dead. He was and still is the light of the world. Christians today worship the risen Lord Jesus; Jesus the baby who became Jesus the man who died and rose again for us and for the whole world; Jesus who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). My prayer for each one of you is that this Christmas and each day you will know and will be open to Jesus, the light of the world. Amen!

(I am grateful to Nick Price from St. Thomas’ Church, Fair Oak, for the ideas which sparked this talk)

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