Hugh Conkey is the minister of Newtonhill Parish Church. He may be contacted by either:
Telephone: (01569) 730143
This is the last edition of Reachout this year, the Christmas edition, even though I am writing this in early November. Still, Halloween is past so even the most restrained shops reckon we must now be in the Christmas season. It’s a time for families and
togetherness, and we have been very blessed that our two girls have always, so far, made it home for Christmas, wherever they might have been living. That cannot work out for everyone, and when it doesn’t I think there is always a particular sense of a gap at the table.
In 1979 I was living away from home for the first time, in Edinburgh, as Christmas approached, perhaps that’s why I was particularly taken with the big sign that the Church of Scotland had in its office window at 121 George Street. ‘Christmas means a Son away from home!’ it ran, and Ithought it was very clever and likely to appeal to people passing by. I said as much to my landlord, by way of a compliment, because he happened to work for the publicity department in the Church. Much to my surprise, he turned round and told me that he didn’t like it at all, ‘I disagree with the theology’ he said.
I had been thinking the phrase captured very well the self-giving love of God in sending Jesus into the world, but I immediately realised what he meant and mentally slapped my forehead. Jesus was not a son away from home that first Christmas. This world is God’s world and in coming to earth as that baby at Bethlehem, God’s Son was entering into what had always belonged to him. He was its maker, its life and its light. John’s Gospel says as much, ‘He came to what was his own.’ The tragedy was that, ‘his own did not receive him.’ The Son was not away for Christmas - he came home and most did not want to know him. But to those who did receive him he gave power to become the children of God.
Christmas is about family; about God being here with us in our world, because it is really his world, and making us part of his family through our trust in Jesus. It is not about a separated, broken family, but about a healed, restored and united family, sharing in our Father’s love. Wherever our earthly families may be this Christmas, Jesus is with them and with us, and we can share that joy wherever we may be.
May you know Jesus very close to you and your loved ones this Christmas, and may you find joy and peace in sharing with our church family as we worship him together at this special time.
Yours in Christ, Hugh (Extract from Reachout - November 2016)
Copyright Newtonhill Parish Church 2014
Newtonhill Parish Church (Church of Scotland)
Scottish Charity No. 005679