It might be New Year's Day, but there are twelve whole days of Christmas so I don't think it's too late to squeeze a festive blog into the season.
Christmas this year has, as it has many times before, arrived whilst the world is in turmoil. Political and terror crises seem to be heightened almost more than ever, climate is devastating populations right across the globe and you don't need to look very far to see hurting people in need of miracles. What on Earth can the birth of a baby over 2000 years ago speak into such situations?
Every year I revisit the Christmas scriptures and more often than not, some little nugget will stand out to me. This year, that same thought has kept coming back to me at the many (7 I think!) carol services I've attended. I absolutely love carols; I love the harmonies and descants, I love their familiarity and I love the depth of truth found in those familiar words. However, I'm not a huge fan of one particular festive favourite, Silent Night. It just seems to create too tidy a picture. Would a newborn baby really be silent, especially if that baby was born in an animal store and cradled in a feeding trough? I don't think so.
But I began to think, whilst Jesus' birth might not have been silent to the immediate vicinity, it was utterly silent in terms of its global significance. If a royal baby is born in the UK, you can guarantee crowds and photographers gathering for their first glimpse, and the story hitting the headlines and social media almost immediately. Yet when Jesus was born, Son of God made man, it was in a borrowed corner of some little town with only a handful of shepherds to visit (and some wise guys from far off lands eventually). The world kept turning, people carried on living their lives just the same none the wiser and the political situations remained unchanged. We know now how significant this birth really was, the whole of history is divided into before and after it's occurrence and its religious, social, political and personal impact on the world is immeasurable.
I look back at the current world circumstances and I think we need to see massive change. But this Christmas reflection reminds me not to dismiss the insignificant not to expect it to stand out when we follow God's will for us personally and for the world around us. Who knows what amazing things might come out of us doing something selfless in secret? It could be financial giving, time giving, investing in causes, investing in people around us, any number of things. The important thing is not to need thanks or praise for what you do, but just to know the joy of being in line with God's heart for doing incredibly significant things, insignificantly. If we leave the rest in His hands, who knows what wonders we may have inadvertently been a part of? And even if there is no measurable effect whatsoever, we will be following His beautiful example.
And another bonus little nugget of Christmas loveliness!