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Alone at Christmas

December 8, 2015

Alone_in_a_Crowd(a sermon for those who have lost a loved one this year)

 

His Name Shall be Called Emmanuel, which means God with Us.

 

In a sense the meaning of Christmas is very simple. You are not alone! A group of people… Christians… have come to believe that God is with us.

 

Some will tell you that ultimately you die alone. You must abandon your community with others and go on alone. Is this true?

 

For all of us someone has died this year. And not only is there this haunting thought that they are cut off … but also the deep sense of being alone ourselves, left behind.

 

Sure there are people around. But without that one … often we feel totally alone, even in a crowd.

 

We are faced with a dilemma… Is the vast emptiness of space between planets and galaxies a good metaphor for our personal situation?

 

Or is the love we have known with the one who died this year, in fact a sign of the truth about the created world? Is the universe itself moved by love? Will we trust the love that we have experienced in our relationships with those we have lost? Will we trust it as a sign of a deeper truth?

 

There is a terrible aloneness that we enact each year at Christmas time. It’s the aloneness of the shopping season, the aloneness of the commercialism, the mass produced jingoism of jingle bells. It’s the season where those who measure the world in dollars and cents come out to play. The corporations and franchises (and individual consumers seeking a bargain) do battle. There are moments of humanness in the midst of it all. But ultimately it is a noisy aloneness in a world based on competition for scarce resources between individuals whom the economists call ‘self-interest maximisers’ (a certain kind of model citizen). It is a celebration of an economic system in which God is basically absent. In place of redemption, economic growth is our best shot, even if the physical parameters of our planet start to suffer and collapse under our weight.

 

Christmas is full of irony. Hidden away in this aloneness of the shopping season… is the story of God with us. The love that moves the universe, has determined to intertwine God’s self with our fragile human condition and build a new creation. A child is born, to a refugee family in the middle of nowhere. Violence and aloneness will not have the final say. Thanks be to God.

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