What do you [want] NEED for Christmas?

As we come to the final edition of another year’s Cambray magazine production, I wish to thank Michael Hews our multi-gifted editor and Jackie Champion for her professional eye with design layout, and the excellent team who print and collate our church magazine every month. It is a major means of communication and enables the sharing of many stories, vital updates as well as all important dates and facts.

Words on a piece of paper have always been a powerful means for education and transforming lives. Even before paper, early examples of writing involved pictures, symbols and characters; these later developed into writing using alphabets and words. Over the centuries, one piece of technology has been exchanged for another – papyrus, parchment, paper, pens, through to the innovation of the printing press, books, computer and mobile messaging. So the ‘piece of paper’ is nowadays more likely to be a screen, with unlimited access to words, pictures and information wherever we are. But words still possess the power to spread information and the energy to bring about change.

Lists Leading to Reformation
In 1517 Martin Luther wrote a list. On the paper he included 95 points which attacked the established Church for its corruption and serious error, especially the selling of ‘indulgences’ as a means of absolving sin and obtaining salvation. Not so, protested Luther. Salvation was obtainable only by faith in Christ and that by divine grace alone. Significantly, the tone of his 95 theses was more humble than rant, academic in style, encouraging reflection and debate on doctrines that Martin Luther considered essential to Christian faith. That paper proved to be dynamite across Europe, igniting the Protestant Reformation.

21st Century Reformation
As we live amid revolution in the 21st century – the technological revolution – increasingly it seems to me that we need another Reformation, personally as well as in the Church across Europe. The days in which we live are dark, confusing and hopeless.

So what do we really want this Christmas? Or, as our Christmas 2014 strapline asks, what do we really NEED this Christmas? To help efficiency our family circle has the habit of writing Christmas lists for each other… it helps the giver and the recipient to be focussed and specific.

If we were each to produce a list of our greatest needs right now, including personal, church, society, I wonder what you would include. As our Christmas services will highlight, we share some of our main needs:

  • Meaning in life
  • Peace
  • A family to belong to
  • A new start
  • Debt cleared
  • God with us
  • Life
  • Hope, etc.

Brilliantly, all these needs (and all human needs) are met by God’s divine grace and our faith in Jesus. Christmas reminds us that Jesus is the Word, eternally ‘with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning’. ‘The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1.1-2, 14).

We should never forget that Jesus came to meet needs. God did not simply send a ‘Holy Book’; rather He personally came to this planet in His Son, to seek out and to save lost people, to preach good news to the poor, to save prisoners, giving sight to the blind and releasing the oppressed (Luke 4.18-19).

The reformation is still happening as people come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; they are saved and receive new life with the Spirit of God coming to live within. The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christians then become ‘living letters’, written ‘not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts’ (2 Corinthians 3.3).

On my Christmas list is the prayer for on-going radical reformation on the ‘tablet’ of my own heart, as well as in the heart of our church family… that, with the Spirit’s help, we would obey Titus 3.9 by avoiding ‘foolish controversies’ which are ‘unprofitable and useless’, and instead discover more of what it means to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, to grow in grace, to be peacemakers, for conversation which honours our Lord Jesus, for a genuine love for one another… Surely that’s a much better list for what we need this Christmas. However, do we WANT those things?

Rachel joins me in wishing you a very Happy Christmas,

Tim Welch