Today, on the last day of term, just as the snow was starting, I went down to the Radio Kent studios in Tunbridge Wells to participate in the recording of the Boxing Day Sunday Morning programme. It was odd to be arriving on a snowy lunchtime instead of the usual 7am Sunday morning. Anyway, in advance of the programme, here is Radio Kent’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for 26th December:
This post-Christmas period often brings a feeling of anticlimax or even boredom. In Christian tradition, the days following the birth of Jesus are marked by a surprising change in tone.
No sooner have we finished cooing over the baby Jesus in his manger, than the Church throws at us images and reminders of bloody martyrdom. Today, 26th December, is normally kept in memory of Stephen, an early member of the Christian community and first martyr – stoned to death for taking a lead role in the Christian community. Then, on 28th December, the Holy Innocents are remembered – the first born baby boys massacred by the army of Herod, following his consultation with astrologers, in an attempt to get rid of the ‘messiah’ who might undermine his power and authority. And on 29th December, we remember St Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury who in 1170 was murdered by agents of the English king.
To the modern mind it seems strange perhaps to ‘spoil’ Christmas with such bloody and violent stories. Surely such things belong in the past. Not so. All over the world, and more than ever in countries where Christianity is repressed, men and women of faith are suffering ridicule, persecution and even death for believing the Gospel. What gives them such conviction and courage?
Clambering out of the cotton-wool insulation of my comfortable life, and making a choice to believe the Gospel, and live the radical teachings of Jesus, brings an energy and clarity which I can only dream of while I bumble along in my cosy daily existence. In these post Christmas days, Christians everywhere are invited to get realistic about what God binding himself forever to humankind means for our lives – the challenges are inevitable, and were experienced by Christians from the start, but they are as nothing compared with the unimaginably full awareness of the purposeof human life we are offered in the form of the God-man of Bethlehem.