A View From The Vicarage - February 2019
Christmas or Candlemas
A few days ago, just before the middle of January, a visitor to Kington Church asked me, with some hauteur it seemed, why the Christmas Cribs were still up in Church. I imagine that she believed that we’d quite simply forgotten to put them away! In my answer I reminded her that the Church’s celebration of Christmas doesn’t end until the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple or Candlemas on February 2nd. I tactfully decided not to inform her that this year we’d actually be observing it on February 3rd! You can tell people too much!
It strikes me that these 40 days from Christmas to Candlemas are of profound importance to our understanding of who Jesus Christ truly is because they focus our attention on something that Christ shares with all humanity; namely his childhood.
Like every other human being Jesus Christ began his life as a baby and had a childhood just the same as did you and I and everybody else who’s ever lived.
Many of us can and do remember significant moments from our childhoods; family celebrations, dramatic weather, schooling and in our adulthood we give tantalizing glimpses of the child we once were just as children can and do reveal glimpses of the adults they will become.
Jesus Christ does exactly the same. In the one incident from his childhood the Gospels record (Luke 2: 41-51) it’s clear that the child Jesus is both someone extremely special and also very aware of his destiny.
The adult Christ, although he never commits sin, is in every respect a fully formed human being. There are glimpses of his humanity as when he tells the apostles faced with 5000 hungry people and a catering crisis “you give them something to eat”. I’m sure that all of us can visualise the twinkle in his eye when he says that!! What about his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well or the multiple encounters with the Pharisees and Sanhedrin. If that’s not Christ revealing his mischievous nature, what is?
I’m convinced that one of our failings as Christians is that we’re more than somewhat prone to emphasising Christ’s divinity at the expense of his humanity. The whole point of the Incarnation is that Jesus Christ was both fully divine and fully human and as such he’s just as human as we are.
Through these days until February 3rd let’s give particular thanks for Jesus’ childhood the time of his life about which we know the least, the time in his life when he was leading a life very similar to ours feeling similar emotions and facing similar problems and difficulties.
Let’s be inspired by the very humanity of Christ and see in his life the pattern and the model for what ours and everybody else’s can and should become.
Only if we really engage with Christ’s humanity will his suffering, death and resurrection have their true meaning.
The baby of Bethlehem, the child in the temple, the adult who’s inspired teaching changed many lives and who’s death and resurrection fundamentally changed the world rejoiced as much in his humanity as his divinity and we should never forget to do the same from the baby to the cross to the empty tomb and beyond.
With my love and prayers as always