From the Rectory – December

Usually found only between two halves of a burger bun an all beef patty and special sauce, gherkins are one of those food items that divide consumers neatly in two. Those that find them awesomely delicious, and those that would chew off their own fingers rather than eat one. Quite why they should become a popular if somewhat surprising decoration for the Christmas tree in some nations is something of a mystery.

Of the most popular origin legends, one from Spain suggests that it is done in honour of St Nicholas who rescued two young boys who were being held captive in a pickle barrel. Another from Germany originating in the 16th century has it that a pickle is hidden somewhere in the branches of the tree, and is then given as a gift to whichever child can find it. An exciting treat for some, world’s worst treasure hunt for others.

Although there is nothing especially unusual about the two main protagonists in the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph find themselves involved with a whole series of surprising discoveries, encounters and events. Dealing with the unexpected is an underlying theme. Messages from God delivered by angels. A once in a lifetime census. A birth in a grim and wearying environment. Visits from all strata of society – royalty from the East, local labourers & shepherds. An angry King with murderous intent.

At its very heart, the story of the birth of Jesus is all about the coming to earth of the baby who is the Saviour of the World. But it’s also a story of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstance and meeting for the first time a God who is so intimately involved with the world that he created, that he was willing to step right into it.

This is where our story meets with the stories of Mary and Joseph.

There’s every chance that you might well encounter God while sitting in a pew in a church building, singing carols, or joining in a Christingle. It’s far more likely that you’ll meet him somewhere surprising or unexpected. In the faces of the hungry or homeless. Over coffee with a struggling single mum. On the school gate with a bereaved dad. Perhaps even hanging decorations on the Christmas Tree, whatever they are!

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