As Christmas approaches, our horizons are filled with a plethora of mixed themes. Many of us are looking forward to a break from work and spending time with family and friends (for some that prospect itself fills us with some apprehension!) It is looking as though travel may not work out as planned as storm Barbara approaches and public transport strikes are threatened. Then there are the news reports from Syria, Yemen, Turkey, Berlin (to name but a few). All this can add to a realisation that our lives are fragile and vulnerable, with very little that is sure and certain.
All that we celebrate at Christmas reminds us that God enters into and experiences our fragility and vulnerability. Some say that the most dangerous journey any of us ever take is down the birth canal… and God, in Jesus, did just that. Born into poverty, in an occupied country, with his life threatened by a despot king and so becoming a refugee at a very young age: Jesus has truly lived as one of us.
There is a thread running through the Christmas story that shows God’s plan of salvation is constantly under threat. It regularly hangs by a thread. Even the genealogy of Jesus with which Matthew’s Gospel starts highlights the frailty of the human line that God was pleased to use for his purposes – it hardly reads like a righteous celebrity list as it includes liars, cheats, adulterers and murderers. The story includes promises made by God (some of them centuries old) that look highly unlikely to be fulfilled. But he is the promise-making and promise-keeping God.
In the midst of our own fragility and vulnerability may we consciously put our faith and trust in the God who made himself vulnerable for our sake. We need not be afraid or ashamed of our vulnerability. May it lead us to put our hand into the hand of the one whose ‘power is made perfect in our weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
May you and those you love lean into God’s grace this Christmastime.