Reflection: Christmas Day, 2018

Published on Dec 30th, 2018 by Rev. David Boyd | 0

The beloved Fred Craddock, who taught preaching for so many years and shared his wisdom in deep ways and was a positive ministry influence to many of us of a certain generation, tells a story about Christmas; this was sometime after WW2:

My now deceased friend, Oswald Goulter, thirty years a missionary to China, was under house arrest for three years.  He would be released by the communists if he promised to go home.  He wired back, the missionary society sent him money for transportation and he took a ship.  He went down to India to catch a ship, and when he was in the coastal city in India before leaving, he heard that there were a lot of Jews sleeping in barn lofts in that city.  They’d been denied entrance to every country in the world except that one, and they’d gone inland and were living in barn lofts.  It was Christmas time.  Oswald Goulter went around to those barns and said to the Jews, ‘its Christmas.  Merry Christmas.’

They said, ‘we’re Jews.’

He said, ‘I know, but it’s Christmas.’

They said, ‘We don’t observe Christmas, we’re not followers of Christ, we’re Jews.’

He said, ‘I know, but what would you like for Christmas?’

‘We don’t keep Christmas.’

‘I know, but what would you like?  If somebody gave you something for Christmas, what would you like?’

They said, ‘well, we’d like some good German pastry.’

‘Good!’  So he went looking, and he finally found some German pastry at some shop there in the city.  After cashing his passage cheque, he took boxes of German pastries to these Jews and said, ‘Merry Christmas.’

Then he wired the missionary service and said, ‘I need a ticket home.’

When that story was being told, there was a young seminarian in the front row, and he was absolutely incensed.  He said to Dr. Goulter, ‘Why did you do that?  They don’t believe in Jesus!’  And Dr. Goulter said, ‘But I do.  I do.’

 

When Craddock told this story, he said that Goulter was a man straight out of Genesis 1.  Cashing his cheque for passage home so that he could share with those not of the same faith the blessings of Christmas.  He just shared hospitality with strangers.  He was a new creation.”

         That’s what John’s Gospel is about and John’s telling of the Christmas story, which isn’t a story per se, but a theological idea of God dwelling in the world.  John begins with creation and the fact that the Word, that Sophia/Wisdom, was with God, was God and was present at that moment of creation, the divine spark that ignited the Big Bang.  John begins with the moment of Creation because, as Fred Craddock said, “We are a new creation.”  Well, actually Paul said it first when he said in his Corinthian correspondence, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17) And if we were to go back even further, there’s the prophet Isaiah, who said in Isaiah 43, “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now, it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  And there’s Revelation that talks about a new creation.  And there’s Genesis, which speaks about the original creation AND about God’s ongoing creation.

         “We are a new creation,” Christmas sings.  We can let go of past hurts and wrongs and start anew.  We can join forces with all who want to be part of a new creation where species are not at risk because of human encroachment, where we can back away from 2 degrees rise in global temperatures, where we can live in peace among ourselves as human beings and with other beings, too, where we can share what we have so that no one goes hungry or lives in abject poverty.  A new creation is not a pie-in-the-sky idea, but a concrete new beginning; just as Jesus came into the world to embody God’s love, we embody God’s love and Jesus’ being as new creations.

         Behold!  You are a new creation.  The past is finished and gone!  Rise and share God’s love in all you do and are!

         Amen.

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