with the Rev Derath Durkin.
I was inspired by the large Nativity seen locally both this Christmas and last year displayed in this TV and electronics shop opposite the promenade here in Penzance. (By kind permission of Simpsons Multimedia, who also very kindly took the photograph for me!)
So – what and who was courageous?
Mary, she must have been terrified! A young girl engaged to be married to Joseph, they had not slept together, when she was visited by the Angel who told her that she was with child! How must she have felt? Disbelieving, frightened that she would be ostracised by her family? - and the community? Despite that she had the courage to believe and to trust in what God was doing in and through her.
Poor old Joseph! I think he’s a bit under-mentioned in the story. Can you imagine how he felt when Mary told him about her pregnancy? A question to the men reading this – what would you think if your fiancée with whom you’d not slept told you that she was with child, conceived of the Holy spirit? Most, to say the very least would not believe her. His intention, being a good sort, was to stand by Mary, and then to quietly divorce her. We are told that after he’d considered all that had happened, an angel of the Lord also visited him and told Joseph what was what! Joseph displayed a huge amount of courage by doing as he was commanded by taking Mary back home as his wife – huge courage - can you imagine the stick he’d have got from his mates? Yet he was obedient.
Terrified at the bright light of the Lord shining around them when the Angel appeared to them, again having the courage to believe the good news of great joy and not to be afraid. They hurried to Bethlehem to see this new born King.
The three magi.
They had the courage of their convictions, believing the charts about a new born King, who would be the King of the Jews. They travelled miles aboard their animals – no motor cars. let alone air travel. Their journey would have been hot, long and laborious, yet still they followed the star (no SatNav back then) to the place where Jesus was born. Herod was not a happy man! A baby who would be the King of the Jews! Telling these wise men to find the boy, and report back to him so that “he too could worship this new King”. Thankfully these Magi were warned in a dream of Herod’s real plan and had the courage to believe their dream, and journeyed home via a different route.
And finally………………….the courage of Jesus himself.
Jesus knew the purpose His Father had in mind for him. He knew he had to leave the safety and the glory of being with God, to come to earth as a babe – born in lowly surroundings - to dwell among us as a carpenter, in an ordinary family (yet also extraordinary because of their courage and obedience), until his ministry here on earth would begin. A man - whose death was more important and significant than His birth. A man who so willingly gave of himself in order that we might all live. Having the courage to fulfill the Scriptures despite knowing how painful that was all going to be.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the courage displayed by the characters in our Nativity, and for their obedience. Help us to show a fraction of the courage they displayed, when we are confronted with the occurrences in our own lives, those things that perhaps frighten or even terrify us. Amen