This Christmas season has commercial advertising full of sparkle and political rhetoric full of spark. But the message of Christmas is of a birth in an animal shelter – God coming to earth as a tiny baby, sparking a life-changing revolution of transforming love.
In recent days both love and hatred have been vividly present, not only in the events of London Bridge but across our country. There have been stories of Secret Santa’s random acts of kindness across communities; winter night shelters offering welcome to the homeless; foodbanks bringing hope to households going hungry. There have also been stories of ugly prejudice, division, loneliness, and abuse. And all this beauty and brokenness has been sparked by the words and actions of fellow human beings.
When the Christmas baby-grown-to-be-man was brutally crucified it looked as if hope’s spark was gone. Yet three days later Jesus Christ rose from the dead, revealing God’s love as stronger than death itself. In the coming days, people will flock to carol services illuminated by sparkling candles proclaiming that the darkness will never overcome the light.
That first Christmas the birth of Emmanuel, our ‘God with us’, sparked an amazing response: shepherds on a hillside followed the message of sparkling angels, and astrologers from the East followed a sparkling star. And down the years it has continued to spark a response in people of all ages and backgrounds who have chosen to join in the life-giving adventure of following Jesus amid life’s pain and tears as well as life’s joy and laughter.
Whatever your response to the gift of the Christ-child, you can be a transforming presence in everyday life. We can choose to help change a narrative of fear and division to one of hope and togetherness, sparked by acts of love, kindness, and compassion, no matter how small.