Vicar’s Reflection: 24th December 2014, 4th of Advent
This holy night we observe the birth of our Saviour. This is a special night not because it is the actual anniversary of Jesus’ birthday – we cannot be sure from the Gospels of the actual timing if his birth, but more importantly we have this day as a day of observance, just as we have other days of observance, like Anzac Day, and Queen’s Birthday. These days are important because they remind us of the reality reflected by and what is honoured and signified by the day. We don’t generally set aside days for fantasy or fictional events. The birth of Jesus was not fiction, it was real. The events leading to and around the birth of Jesus were full of risk and danger. We have romanticised these events because the characters involved and the meanings signified are exotic and distant to us. This ‘distance’ both of time and place can make the story seem unreal. But the raw reality of an unwed mother giving birth in a hastily provided inadequate venue, arranged by a reluctant husband and against a background of haste, unbending officialdom and a despotic dangerous King is not very romantic if it is your reality. That our Lord and Saviour was born in such a context shows the willingness of God to share our risks and dangers and vulnerabilities. Those who brought the Gospel to this land two hundred years ago also entered into a very risky endeavour. This night we are thankful also for this special anniversary to honour the courage of Samuel Marsden and his companions and the courage of the Maori Tangata Whenua who carried the Gospel of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love to and throughout this land.