The Sunday After Christmas


Heb 4:14-16


You may well think that you've heard the first part of this sermon before, and, assuming you were on the waterfront on Easter morning in 2004, then, yes - you have. This may set you wondering as to why I've chosen to nick part of an Easter sermon for a post-Christmas one, but hopefully that'll all become clear.

So... cast your minds back.
You know the story:
Champions league final, 26 May 1999. Barcelona. Losing 1-0 in 90th minute.
You know the story:
Redgrave's 5th. Sydney September 23 2000 00:30
You know the story:
Curling 04:20 Salt Lake City 22 February 2002. Score 3-3 with Switzerland in leading position.

And yet, you also know the end of the story - Sheringham then Solskjaer; the Italians didn't catch up & Redgrave & company won by 0.38 seconds; Rhona Martin curled the perfect stone to not only remove Switzerland's best stone but replace it with her own & Britain won Gold. In all cases, it looked like the story was over - and then it wasn't.

Actually, there's another bit to the Champion's league final story, involving Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA. As the final whistle approached, he left his seat and got into the lift to take him down to pitch level. There he was met by an aide who informed him the Manchester United had scored, so he'd better go back as there would now be extra time. So he got back in the lift and went back up, where he was met by another aide who informed him that Manchester united had scored again, so he'd better go back down. Three times they thought it was all over, three times he got in the lift, and in the process missed what has been voted the most exciting two minutes of football ever.

Christmas is over for another year. Time to pull down the cards (noting new offspring, new houses and so on in the address books as we do), pull down the decorations, pack the carol sheets and candles back into their boxes. Christmas is over; it's time to start planning for what's next. Easter's early this year, so we're going to have to get a move on to get anything done before then. Christmas is over, the sales have arrived - it's time to forget about what Aunt Agatha bought us and instead see what we can find in the sales that we asked for but didn't get.

And yet - Christmas isn't over. Just as Easter isn't over at lunchtime and Pentecost's not over when the church is 5,000 strong and the Ascension's not over when Jesus disappears into the clouds. They're not over because the message isn't over. These are the central points of our faith: God becomes human, God dies in our place, God returns to heaven. The celebrations may be so last week, but the message is so today -always today, always relevant, always current.

As Kenneth Wolstenholme might have said: Some people are in the sales - they think it's all over. The event is over, the celebration is over, the date has passed. The message goes on for ever: God has become human, born a baby at Bethlehem. God with us. God among us. The immortal divine has taken on mortal humanity. As the Athanasian Creed reminds us: fully human, fully God. It's something so big, so mind-blowing, we can't really get our minds round it. Yet it happened. As our reading reminded us, Jesus knows what it's like to be fully human so He can fully represent us before the throne of God. So when we pray we know that there is someone at the right hand of God who understands fully what we're going on about, why we're worried, why we're upset, why we ask what we ask.

Fully God, fully human. Christmas isn't over - it's only just begun.

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