On a family holiday one summer a few years ago we came to a T-junction. Our map said turn left but the sign said turn right. My daughter asked directions from a man who was nearby. His response was to turn the sign post through 180% so that it corresponded to our map. How thankful we were that we were on the right road!
A month ago we celebrated the Coming of Jesus to our world as a tiny baby at Bethlehem and we are also at the beginning of a new year. As we think and wonder what the New Year will bring, I believe the Christmas Story can stand as a signpost that gives us direction and points the way both in our lives and in the Life of the world in which we live. For there at the manger what do we see? Do we see just a poor dirty stable, cold and draughty, filled with people making the best of a difficult situation? Well I don’t think we need a GCSE in Theology to see beneath the surface to the deeper things that shine through. The love and devotion of Mary for her new born Son, the forgiveness and loyalty of Joseph, the generosity of the innkeeper, the joy and peace of the angels, the kindness and wonder of the shepherds and the courage and dedication of the wise men.
As we begin our journey through another year I invite you to reflect on that Christmas Signpost and think about what it could mean for you. Signposts always give us choices. We can move towards the love in action that we see at the Manger making time for friends, family and neighbours. Supporting the causes that touch our lives. It means asking ourselves ‘Will my words and actions lead to a loving outcome, it means forgiving those who have hurt us, and supporting those who need our help’. Or we can move away from the Christmas Signpost towards self-interest, greed, remaining indifferent to the needs of others, and going our own way. There is also another way. However for things are never that simple or clear cut. That way is the way of sitting on the fence, doing nothing, and letting things go by us without really making a decision about anything. The way towards love for others can transform us into loving joyful people. Alternatively the way towards self-love will make us more self-absorbed and selfish. While the route of indifference can lead to loneliness and despondency. In this New Year these choices are before us, to challenge us , and to make us think.
So which way will you choose, this New Year? I wonder ?
(This article by Rev’d Jenny was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in February 2015)