I can only wonder at God’s ‘modus operandi’. His ‘way of working’. First he gives us free choice in full knowledge of what this means for us and for those we live with.
We can with God’s permission hurt ourselves, damage our eternal well-being and ignore our eternal purpose. But more worryingly we can choose to hurt others, damage them, diminish their humanity, shaped as it is in the image of God. As a tiny child can cover their eyes with their hands and keep out the sun, so we can keep the source of all life, the eternal God, and our creator out of our lives. We can deny God at our own peril and hurt to the world.
But secondly God chooses to bear upon himself the consequences of our choices. Riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey he holds his hand up and says, ‘This is my doing, I will pay’.
How awesome our God, how mysterious his ways, how wonderful his way of working that both trusts us to the uttermost, and accepts for us the almost inevitable outcomes of that gift. Paul says in Romans 8 that, ‘all things are worked together for good for those that love God.’ God works together even human disobedience in ancient times and turns it into the most wonderful event in history; God on a cross dying that we might live.
If ever there was one story that holds all this; the choice, the pain, the honoring of human choice, the consequences of disobedience; it is God’s call to Mary. Her response, ‘Let it be to me according to your will,’ is the moment that all God’s hopes and fears are fulfilled. A human being said, ‘yes’! Therefore, all things are possible as our God is, ‘contracted to a span’.
I like Christmas. I like the garish, cheesy, cosy, mince pie ridden fullness of it. I’ve never preached a sermon telling anyone off for the superficial, tinsel laden nonsense that is Christmas. If I did I would be a hypocrite because I love the season. I have, slightly to my shame, already, in mid-November, watched two sentimental sloshy Christmas movies. But Christmas is always more. More than we can ever understand. It tells me that in my deepest darkest night, God is there. It tells me that however trapped I feel, I can always choose life. It tells me that no matter what muddle I’ve got myself into, he has the key. It declares in the face of the powers and principalities of this world, the money, the arms, the politicians, the structures and systemic sins of society; he is King, the ‘prince of peace’, the sovereign Lord. He is so because he allows me choice, and pays the price, because he trusts me, and stands by when I break that trust.
He is King because he came as a vulnerable baby born to an insignificant girl called Mary who dared to say, ‘Yes’ and share in the divine will to rescue the world.