Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
There has always been something magical about Christmas for me.
Even before I came to faith, I loved the Christmas hymns and in particular the story of the child born in the manger. It is magical and mystical.
When I was four years old, my parents told me that I was going to get a very special Christmas present – a wee brother or sister. You can imagine the excitement and the bike that I had been longing for now took a very distant second place.
Well, he did end up coming – late. Very late, the 15th of January late and he has never been on time for anything since.
What a let-down. He was so wee and I asked myself ‘how can you play football with something that size that just sleeps all the time?’
What are our expectations of Christmas? That first Christmas, could Mary have expected her son to be born in a stable with animals all around?
And what about the shepherds and their tale about the angels – could she have anticipated that? Was it all a bit of a let-down for her? Maybe, maybe not.
But Christmas will always be a bit of a let-down if we primarily focus on the wrong things.
But what if we focus on the right things? On the wonderful gift of God’s love that will never change – indeed it can only get better as we grow to understand and appreciate the sheer depth of it.
What about the wonderful promise of “Immanuel?” That word means “God with us” – always with us and He promises never to leave us or forsake us.
There is the astonishing gift of eternal life, knowing that those who are no longer around the table are in a glorious place?
See it through a different lens and we capture the wonder of God’s greatest ever gift – His Son.
He invites us to receive this greatest of all gifts, one that comes as a complete package – forgiveness, reconciliation, new life and eternal hope.
None of this is to say that the presents, time spent with family, the meal and watching the Great Escape for the 10th time are unimportant … they are good and a blessing.
But remember this Christmas, the permanent and greater gifts of God which are spiritual and personal and the reason for the season.
Here’s a message to the Kirk Moderator
And the Scottish Government has introduced similar with the Lord Advocate declaring silent prayer is psychological intimidation.