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13th December 2020

The Story


(Concluding the service in which two highly creative pre-recorded Nativity Plays had been seen)
Right from the very earliest times, human beings have acted out stories. That is how our ancient fairy tales, legends and religious narratives have come down to us- because, in the days before there were paper and ink and writing skills, people passed on their stories by telling them and by acting them out. Let’s face it, there are parts of those nativities we have just seen that you will never forget….

But it was not just about passing on the story. It was also about living out the message of the story.
Think about your favourite fairy tales…. I guess that they all had a happy ending. They were about people going through difficult times, but everything turns out right for them in the end, with good triumphing over bad. The kind, brave people like Cinderella and Snow White and Dick Whittington make the right choices, do the right things and there is a higher power somewhere in the story which rewards them with happiness.

By re-enacting their stories, you were teaching your children that it was better to be good and kind and brave like Cinderella than to be nasty and greedy like the ugly sisters.

Many ancient civilisations held annual festivals in which the King would take to the stage to fight a monster and the monster would represent earthquakes or violent storms or enemy invasion- anything which threatened the security of the country. (Today it might be Boris fighting a monster-shaped- virus…) The King would kill the monster, and everyone would then feel confident that their country would be safe for another year. This would make them more positive, more loyal, more hard-working so, whatever happened, the country stood a good chance of becoming a better place to live.

These ancient stories, then, have their own way of coming true in each generation of human life. And this is the most important thing I would like you to remember about the Nativity Story. The Nativity Stories were first written down in the Gospels. And the word “Gospel” means Good News. In other words- listen up everyone because this story is going to change your life.

Ask yourselves two questions:
First, when we watch or re-enact this story- what is it telling us?
• That God himself came to live amongst us on earth;
• That God chose to be born amongst poor and terrorised people;
• That both rich and poor, locals and foreigners were sent to see the baby;
• That some people reacted with fear and fury but others with joy and adoration;
• That those who greeted the child with joy and adoration, even though they did not fully understand what was happening, found themselves encountering the true and living God.

Second- how is this story going to change my life, right here, right now?
• If the life of Jesus was the life of God himself then my life really matters to God. I am worth it, even when I don’t think so.
• If the life of Jesus was the life of God himself then Jesus is still living amongst us in the people around me, the people I try to help, the people I support through charities. It is not just “trying to be nice” but “coming face to face with God.”
• If Jesus chose to be born amongst poor, terrorised people then I may need to re-think what “success” and “security” actually look like.
• The shepherds had an angel; the wise men had a star. God will send something to inspire and guide me through Christmas and into the New Year. Even if I take a wrong turning or two, He will get me to where I need to be.
• And if God is living among us; if the power of God is moving in ordinary human lives; if the love of God can reach out and save even the most messed up of us- then my life remains worth living and this world remains worth saving and the Christmas gift of love, of joy, of peace, of Jesus can remain with us for ever.

So thanks again, everyone, for telling us the story. Now let’s receive the story and live the story. Amen.