I remember one Christmas Eve when the kids were teenagers, a group of us from church, including all our family, went carol singing at a local old folks’ home. It was a joy and delight! They were so pleased to have us, and made such a fuss of us, it was a really memorable occasion. Even the kids all said that that carol singing event had really made Christmas that year.
Yet these days, a lot of shops and councils have banned Christmas carols in case they offend folks from other religions. They don’t mind all the razzmatazz of the season, but begrudge us holding it as a festival in honour of the One who’s birthday we’re celebrating! I’ve even heard it referred to as ‘Winter Festival’ so the name of Christ does not appear!
Pharaoh was not up for the Israelites holding a festival in honour of their God either (Exodus 5:1-3). He did not see any reason why he should obey a god he did not know. Fair point I suppose. But the reply Moses and Aaron gave him got me thinking. “The God of the Hebrews has met with us.”
Why indeed should people have anything to do our God? They don’t know him. They don’t think he exists. Why should they obey him? Why should they even have to listen to Christmas carols? But Moses’ response is the key. “God has met with us.” That is what we need to be able to say. Because if God has met with us, if his presence has rubbed off on us, if his Holy Spirit has filled us afresh with the awe and wonder and joy of knowing him, of meeting with him, of being in his presence, then some of that will impact the world around us. If God infills us, then we will take his presence with us out into our communities. In meeting us, those folk will meet with him too.
They may not know him right away – these things are rarely instant – but if God’s power is evident in our lives, then little by little, they will come to meet him. They will come to know him. They will come to love and obey him. When we allow God to transform us, then we’ve got a hope of transforming our communities.