Summary: There is a lot of hype around Christmas this message is a challange to engage after the main event. Or is it the main event?

Christmas 2013 was one of those interesting times, our first Christmas in Dunedin, and our first Christmas alone as a couple without the boys.

As I mentioned last week Rochelle and I were really keen to go somewhere for a picnic and between torrential downpours we managed to find a lovely spot under a Chestnut tree, umbrella at the ready at the Green Island War Memorial Gardens.

It was great just to have that time together, enjoying one another’s company, being thankful for the rush being over, to enjoy a smoked chicken, and summer salad and a bottle of grape juice. Shell even got me a gluten free fruit cake which we shared with birds in the garden.

The weather was something else, it’s been quite cold or is that just us, I don’t think so, as we as well as our neighbours had our fires burning on Christmas Day. That was a first in my life, being from Nelson where at this time of the year it’s too hot to sleep under sheets. But then again as I mentioned on Christmas Day I like a cold Southerly blast. So really it was quite a good day weather-wise for me.

So where to now that Christmas 2013 is over, and by the way I went into the city on Boxing Day, I didn’t know that there were that many people in Otago, I managed to have almost every traffic light turn amber just as arrived at it, with intersections full of cars that had more right of way being there than I did. Thankfully there were also some very courteous drivers who let me through. Boxing Day sales you’ve got to love them even the rain could not keep the crowds away.

Friday was interesting we came to the hall as we had a few things to sort out, as you can see the Christmas decorations have been put away, I must say that I was not responsible for that Shell and Mel must claim the credit for the packing down of Christmas.

Has anyone else here done their packing down? You know the stuff, tree away, lights all wrapped up safe for next year, the fake chimney and Father Christmas’ legs off the roof, the nativity all boxed up again, and the straw vacuumed or feed to the neighbours pet rabbit.

Did you know that for a lot of people do you know that that is where Christmas stops for them? Tucked away in a cupboard, their Jesus bubble wrapped and safe away on a shelf, along with the manger and Mary, Joseph, the Wise men, Shepherds, cows and sheep. Bits of wood and plastic, may be a golden Christmas star made of ice block sticks. They have no idea of what could happen in their lives if they allowed the power of God’s Spirit loose in their lives. No idea what could happen if they opened his word and allowed it to open up their understanding of life, if they were open to the Holy Spirit taking charge and producing fruit, just how many people could find salvation if only they would.

Then there are some who know what could happen, but the fear of uncertainty of living for Jesus is the sticky tape which binds the whole nativity in a box of comfort and security, for to allow Jesus loose is to live for God’s will and not theirs. Jesus might just challenge them beyond their comfort zones, asking them to go into places of uncertainty, rejecting habits and behaviours that, while they are dangerous are easier to deal with than the unknown that God might require of them. So as well as taping Jesus up tight, they make sure the box is securely closed with packing tape, you know that thick brown tape and then shoved well out of reach until the safety of the next silly season is upon them.

Some keep the decorations out a bit longer than most, for they love the colour the sparkle, the flashing of the lights and the idea that there is a saviour. But when the questions are asked about why the decorations are still out, they start to feel uncomfortable because the thoughts of others matter to them, they are pressured to conform the standards of the world, they don’t like to stand out from the crowd. Away go those reminders of the Christ, only to be brought out again in late November.

The point is that beyond the hype, beyond the presents, beyond the preachers Christmas tie with red LED that plays Jingle Bells is something that is so real, that holds so much certainty, that changes lives, communities and eternities.

The angels came and declared it, the fishermen and tax collectors believed, the lepers, the blind, the sinful woman and the lame experienced it! Paul was blinded by it, for two thousand years generation after generation has accepted and been saved as they accepted it. It is this!

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