It’s here! It’s Christmas! The children’s stockings are bulging, the kitchen is already smelling wonderful, and under the tree, presents in gleaming paper are waiting to be unwrapped. In church, we’ll finally be able to sing ‘O come, all ye faithful’ right to the end, with its amazing last verse ‘Yes, Lord, we greet you, born this happy morning!’
But beyond the trappings of Christmas, beyond the familiar carols, do we realise that God has sprung a huge surprise on the waiting world? If you’ve been following our reflections through Advent, you’ll know that we have been exploring the idea of God’s kingship, as the psalms and the prophets foretold God’s reign and as Jesus made it real. But at Christmas, there is no sign of a king, just a newborn baby, helpless in the animals’ feeding trough.
What is God up to? Surely the world needs a king – a strong leader, with authority and power, who can get everything sorted out! No, says God, it isn’t like that. Real change comes from sharing fully in the life of this world and showing us how it can be different, from the inside out. Real leadership comes from standing alongside people, getting to know them, learning to love them for who they really are and welcoming their love in return. Real authority comes when a leader’s strength stands alongside their vulnerability, and action depends on co-operation.
And to make sure we get the message, God sends a king who is a baby, contradicting all our expectations and helping us see what it really means to say ‘God is love’ in a suffering world. This Christmas, may we know the amazing love of God, made real in Jesus, the baby King.