A Letter from the Vicar

Dear Friends,

A Word to sum-up the Message of Christmas

I have been thinking recently about what word might sum-up the message of Christmas. When Mel and I were buying a few things recently from one of our well-known shops, the word that summed up the wrapping paper was either ‘drab’ or ‘austere’!

However, buying Christmas cards from Keith Jones Christian bookshop, better words like ‘joy’, ‘peace’ and ‘hope’ came to mind. In his book called ‘A Nazareth Manifesto’, Sam Wells suggests that the most important word to sum-up not only the message of Christmas, but the Christian Gospel, is ‘Immanuel’ which is translated as ‘God is with us’.

As he says in the introduction “These four words express the character of God, the identity of Jesus and the work of the Spirit. They are the Christian testimony about the past, witness to the present, and hope for the future. Each word offers itself as the heart of the gospel.”

 

Immanuel - God is with us

There are no words that can fully define God, although there are many that describe God’s character including loving, faithful, wise, good, holy, kind and patient, to mention a few.

However, God’s active move to become, like us, his creation, through the Incarnation, Jesus born as a baby in Bethlehem, seems to reveal God’s nature in a more three- or multi-dimensional way. “God is the root, the rhyme and the reason for all things,” says Sam Wells. “The gospel is first and last about ‘God’. [However] God’s nature and purpose are expressed by the three words that follow (‘is with us’).”

Here is a taster of my top theological book for 2021. If you want to find out more about the relevance of the word ‘Immanuel’ to you and me, I will be exploring this theme in various services over the Christmas season in particular our Carol Services on 19th December at both St. John’s and St. Barnabas.

 

God bless,

Andy