I sent a Christmas tweet and put a spelling mistake in it. Not on purpose. A bit too bleary eyed I’m afraid. Instead of being on bended knee around the manger and the altar I said ‘blended’. I preached a Christmas Eve sermon at Ipswich, Coventry, and Brandon and I think it is fair to say that there were four versions – the written version and the three preached versions. Of course the Bible text was the same and the overall aim or goal was kept but I felt that each version was very different – not that I intended them to be different. I suppose I was the only one who realised this. And yet we all trust that the Holy Spirit works to bring the words people need to hear so that they ultimately are drawn nearer to Jesus and see him for who he is – son of Mary and son of God, Lord of lords and Lamb of God, priest and sacrifice – and in doing so, see them-selves as those in need of Jesus. The work of the Holy Spirit isn’t meant to let me be slack in my preaching or teaching but is a comfort that getting the message across isn’t solely up to me. (In fact both me and you can take comfort in that!)
It struck me that our Christmas reading of John 1 men-tioning the Word – with God – was God – all things were made through him – and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us – and grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ who has made the Father known – is a wonderful vista to contemplate. And there is no mention of language! Followers of Jesus are not required to learn a specific holy language to learn from and communicate with the Di-vine. I mentioned this in a previous ‘blurb’ and it has remained percolating around my brain. We assume Jesus spoke Aramaic and knew Hebrew and possibly some Greek. The lan-guages of the Old and New Testaments – Hebrew and Greek – convey what God has done for his people – and they are to be studied – not to speak them – but so that we can make sure the messages of our languages today say the same message as was given then. The work of translators is very important but whatever the language, the sheep can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. This is the wonder of following a living God – that he communicates and draws people to himself – and he uses human language and human speakers with all their imperfections.
The Jesus of Christmas cannot speak and yet words about him still draw us to him and the peace on Earth God is establishing through him. May we always listen. — GS