Thursday, December 08, 2016

Thought for the Day

As delivered to the BBC Radio Bristol Breakfast Show with Emma Britton this morning:

Well it comes to the time of year when we sing carols. And people are looking forward to the BBC Radio Bristol Christmas Celebration on Monday.

And as a Christian minister I will probably get in trouble for this but some of the words of our carols really are nonsense.

For instance, when, in Once in Royal David's City, we sing:

Christian children all must be
Mild obedient, good as he

...we are learning more about Victorian parenting styles than Jesus' upbringing.

And from Away in a Manger:

The cattle are lowing
The baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

It is pure supposition that Jesus wasn't scared by the noise of cows that may or may not have been in or around his home at that time.

So what's going on? I used to get cross about all this but now, advanced in years, my tolerance has increased. What we have (beat) is a universal story.

The God I follow revealed himself in Jesus Christ, says the Bible. This is such a unique and special insight that song-writers, down the ages, have felt comfortable drawing attention to the truth by addition, embellishment and gloss.

This baby is so special, goes the story, that God made flesh is the only apt description. And he is going to live and die for everyone; so the Christmas story and songs can be all-embracing.

It's quite a liberating thought. It allows Santa, countless unlikely animals and all sorts of weird and wonderful extra characters, to be placed in worship at a manger. Not because of the baby; but because of who the baby turned out to be. And what he did.

Happy Easter everybody.

And when Emma responded by suggesting that babies in mangers raised safeguarding issues I was too slow to say 'Think Aleppo not Bristol'. Great comebacks often occur to me in the car on the way home.

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