The Bishop of Bangor’s Christmas Message 2016 : When God plays left field
Few of us would have predicted that this would be the year when we decided to pull the plug on our relationship with Europe or that a TV celebrity – who also happens to be a billionaire businessman – would become President of the United States of America.
Whatever earthquakes have rocked parts of the southern hemisphere, the north has experienced different, although hardly less tumultuous shifts. They say life is unpredictable and that could probably qualify as the understatement of the century.
Of course, these great events have taken place under the spotlight glare of a world obsessed with 24 hour media, the latest carpool karaoke and fascination with Ed Balls’ efforts on Strictly Come Dancing. It’s not just the seminal events which flood our screens, fill our inboxes and snapchat their way onto our smartphones.
Strangely, it wasn’t under the gaze of a watching world when God showed up that first Christmas. We’re told the onlookers were some shepherds, minding their own business and hoping for a relatively hassle free night, when something exploded upon them and they were told to go and find God.
We can imagine their reaction. ‘Find God’? ‘Yes, that’s right, because a child has been born to a young couple, sort of refugee types and he’s lying in a feeding box in that village a few miles from here. And he’s God’s Son’.
Anyone other than the shepherds might well have wondered whether this was some kind of a joke and stayed put. But they didn’t and, well, the rest is history.
This tells us something about God. We may look in all sorts of traditionally religious places and try to see the divine hand in great and seismic events. But when God shows up, it can be utterly unexpected and wonderful for that very fact. It might be in the small things or when we feel we least deserve attention and God becomes real and living to us – waiting in line at the supermarket for example, a chance comment from a friend over a drink in the pub or when walking the dog on a cold winter morning.
I hope and pray that you discover something of God’s love and care for you over this Christmas period. Don’t be surprised if it is in the place you least expect, God has always played left field.
+Andrew Bangor (The Right Revered Andy John, Bishop of Bangor)