Christmas light in a dark world – festive message from Hartlepool priest

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‘Yes!’ That’s what Christmas is about.

It starts with Mary, an unmarried teenage girl, being zapped by an angel who tells her that God has massive plans for her life – that she would become pregnant and give birth to a baby that was God in flesh and blood.

Rev Chris Collison in St Hildas church with the new seating.

Rev Chris Collison in St Hildas church with the new seating.

It must have been both terrifying and exciting, being chosen by God and knowing that the future was all in his hands.

It can’t have always felt like that as she and Joseph trundled towards Bethlehem. But inside she knew that God had a special plan for her life.

She knew that she had to obey, to surrender her life and her ambitions for God.

Is Christmas a ‘Yes’ for you? If we get inside Mary’s ‘Yes’, we might see that one of the most important – and neglected – things in life is to try and live the way God wants.

For you too are special, whoever you are, and God has a plan for you just as he had for Mary.

I accept that saying ‘Yes’ to God is not easy, not automatic, not something we do willingly, as we would rather get our own way. But……

The child Jesus grew to be a man, and he knew how hard life was for many people.

They came to him for healing and teaching, for deliverance from their demons, and to find a friend. ‘Come unto me,’ he said, ‘all you who are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’

I have found that saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus is something I have to keep doing, every day, sometimes every hour. But when I say ‘Yes Lord,

I will let you lead me,’ then my anxieties drop away and I find peace in our darkening world.

Our world does seem to be getting darker. The lies of happiness through wealth and celebrity are seen as worth nothing as dark forces rip out the lives of nations and peoples across the world.

Jesus comes at Christmas as the Prince of Peace.

He comes to a dark world that neither understands nor wants to know him.

A ‘Yes’ to him can be uncomfortable, demanding that we pray for Jihadi John and the like, calling us to live on the edge like so many people (such as seafarers), hoping that we will not become self-absorbed in our churches.

Jesus is life and light for a dark and dying world. His words ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the world’ are a promise, with God’s authority, that a ‘Yes’ to God means that ‘all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.’ His Christmas gift to you is Love. God wants you to receive it in your ‘Yes’ to him.

Chris Collison (Priest-in-Charge of St Hilda’s Church and Mission to Seafarers chaplain)