James preaches on Jonah 1, the second in our series from Jonah. Jonah is wilfully fleeing from God and on the boat in the storm.
It is amazing how our culture has done its best to take Christ out of Christmas. The greetings cards now say ‘Season’s Greetings’ and the decorations, jumpers, and shop windows all show penguins, puddings and presents instead of Christ. I try very hard never to use the abbreviation ‘Xmas’, because that really does take Christ out of Christmas!
But it’s not just our culture that has tried to do this. King Herod tried to take Christ out of the first Christmas. He was so desperate that he put to death every male baby in and around Bethlehem under the age of two, because he did not want Jesus Christ in his little world, where he reigned supreme.
On the other hand, Mary brought Christ into the first Christmas. God sent her an angel to explain what was going to happen, and even though it meant the disgrace of giving birth before she was married, she still had enough faith to say: ‘I am the Lord’s servant; may your word to me be fulfilled.’ And it was: she trusted God and gave birth to the Saviour.
Mary or Herod? Whose side will you take?
How could you bring Christ into your Christmas this year? Find a book for Advent from our Church bookstall. Read the first chapters of Luke’s gospel. Come to a church service you don’t usually come to. Pray for the gift of faith, for yourself and for others. Say a real prayer of thanks at your Christmas lunch. Put a bible verse in your Christmas cards. Mark out half a day in mid-December when you can prepare your heart for Jesus. Buy a CD of Christmas praise and sing along as you drive your car. Read about the birth of Jesus with your children, and help them to pray.
Who wants to be on Herod’s side? Don’t join him, but do have a very happy Christmas, with Christ at the heart of it all.
With my best wishes – James.
P.S. This is the last edition of FOCUS that Elaine Mitchell will produce for us. She has been editor for ten years and given us 100 editions. That is an amazing act of service, and Elaine, we all want to say ‘Thank you’ for all you have done, month by month, with such commitment and skill. Huge thanks and much love from us all at St. John’s and St. Andrew’s.
James preaches from Genesis 41 on the story of Joseph interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh, and how God is in control throughout the difficult times. This also available as a video Video
James gives the second in our evening service series on issues we face. This weeks is on stress. The talk is also available as video Video
James preaches the penultimate sermon from our long running series from Matthew’s gospel, preaching from Matthew 28:1-15 on how the story of Jesus’ resurrection is not “fake news”. This talk is also available as video: Video