Action Zones 

God has come down to us in Jesus Christ 

alan wintonRt Rev Alan Winton
Bishop of Thetford

In the midst of trying times, how often we, or those we know, are tempted to say ‘if God exists, why doesn’t he come and help me?’ We can have the same reaction when we look at the news and see the suffering of so many people at the hands of others

 This cry is not a new one. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah (64 v1) the prophet cries out to God: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”
Christians believe that God heard that cry and responded by sending his Son to live among us, to show us how strong is God’s love for us, to bring us the forgiveness and peace and direction our world needs
This is what the Christmas story is about. The story that will be re-enacted in nativity plays; that some will see represented on their Christmas cards; that carols will be sung to celebrate; and that many of us remember by placing a crib scene at the heart of our Christmas decorations
What is most important about the birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas is not the special circumstances, the angels and shepherds, the star and the wise men. What is most important is the claim about the identity and significance of that baby lying in a manger. That when we look at the baby we are looking at God among us
This is a pivotal moment in human history. It’s why our system of dating the years in the West revolves around the time of Christ’s birth
So Christians believe that God has torn open the heavens and come down. But the nature of his coming is all important. Not with a show of strength and force, not with power to take over our lives, but with the gentleness we see symbolized in the baby in a manger. God has come among us with an invitation, an offer to receive his love, to trust in him, and so to follow him
In Jesus’ life and death and resurrection we see that suffering can be redeemed, that darkness can be overcome
As we gather to celebrate another Christmas, amidst all the temptations and distractions that modern life will bring, and amidst the pain and struggles we face each day, let us reflect on the claim that God has come down to us in Jesus Christ. How will we respond?
May God bless you with love and peace this Christmas
 + Alan Thetford