(As moderator of the Presbytery of Ardrossan, the minister was asked to write a Christmas message for the churches in the Presbytery. The following is his article)
Seeing at Christmas
There is all the difference in the world between seeing something and really seeing something.
Let me explain. Last summer I was on holiday in St Andrews. One day, I strolled into town, enjoying the fresh air and the prospect of a morning coffee. As I walked through the historic West Port, I saw parked at the end of South Street a red Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. I came over all weak-kneed. This was the car of my dreams. Top Gear supercar of the year, and so on…. After I wiped the drool from my shirt, I sat on one of the many benches that line South Street and gazed in wonder at this engineering and design marvel. If only I had a spare £200,000….. In my mind’s eye, I was transported to somewhere in southern Europe on a bright summer’s day, driving this iconic marvel around country bends and drawing wondering eyes whenever I stopped to park. I could smell the upholstery and feel the power of a 6-litre engine that could take me from 0 to 60mph in a fraction over 3 seconds. I was transported to a new life with that car.
Perhaps for you, the memory of falling in love might be a better illustration. The first time you saw her make her way into the room, you realised that you had only ever seen her before in your dreams. Every other arrival crossed the threshold with barely a glimpse from you, but this girl seizes your attention with forces hitherto reserved for Darth Vader. Here is this image of perfection sharing the same room as you, albeit with a dozen others who have now faded out of sight. Your eyes are only for her. You can’t take them off her. By the time she leaves you know every detail of her face and every curl of her hair, the shape of her nose and the manner of her stride. You are transported to a new life with that girl. (For me, that happened in St Andrews too, but rather more than 30 years ago)
Do you get the point? There are times when we look and see, and there are times when we look and really see.
At Christmas time there are many who see Jesus. He is the hazy character behind the Nativity, the babe in the manger; perhaps no more than our own projection of what we think is good or ideal. But the real Jesus challenges us to truly SEE Him, beyond superficialities, and to fix our eyes on Him.
The Shepherds did it. Have you ever wondered what it must have been like out in the fields to see a choir of angels? Can you imagine the splendour of light and the sheer joy of the chorus ‘Glory to God in the highest!’ I might have settled for that, but not the Shepherds. The Shepherds wanted to see more. They wanted to see the One who sent the angels. They were determined to see Jesus:
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15)
In fact, the Christmas story is full of people who wanted to see Jesus, and by that I mean really see Him, recognising who He is and fixing their life dreams on Him. The Magi from the east, thrilled by the bright star in the sky, whatever it was, were nonetheless not satisfied with anything less than seeing Jesus. They were fixing their eyes on Him, and their lives were blessed and transformed as a result.
There is a verse that ends “….he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Since this year marks the anniversary of the AV, ‘he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’.
Let’s pray that our churches this Christmas will attract those who have been drawn by the Holy Spirit to diligently seek Jesus, to really see Him and then discover how lives can be transformed in relationship with Him.
With best wishes for Christmas
(Moderator Presbytery of Ardrossan)