Recharge Bible Study: Christmas in a non-stop world

Recharge is a Bible study just for you, to nurture your own relationship with God. So grab a coffee, sit, breathe and read. This month, Mark Griffiths explores the Christmas story

The full monty

1 Kings 19 - To read if you have time to take it all in

The continental option

1 Kings 19:11-13 - To read if you only have time for the key verses

One shot espresso

1 Kings 19:12 - “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

A non-stop world has a non-stop mum

In a non-stop queue in a non-stop shop

And it’s non-stop buying, and it’s non-stop crying

‘Cos it’s non-stop wanting and it’s just non-stop.

A non-stop world has a non-stop dad

Working non-stop hours in his non-stop job

And it’s non-stop overtime, for non-stop Christmastime

It’s non-stop pantomime, and it’s just non-stop.

A non-stop world has a …

We live in a non-stop world. We have mobile phones so people can get hold of us at any time and in any place. We have smartphones that have made us so smart we now bump into each other as we walk around town because our heads are down checking our smartphones.

Our homes have multiple televisions, and this Christmas they will broadcast hundreds of channels. We are surrounded by sound all the time. There are now clothing ranges that are wired for sound.

And there’s such a thing as visual noise. Advertisements fighting for our attention for that latest Christmas bargain; that must-have commodity.

A non-stop world has…

There is such a manic pace to life, yet we ask God: “Why are you so distant? God, if you are real, speak louder.” I wonder, is there a connection between the pace of our lives, the noise in our lives and our ability to hear God?

A non-stop world has…

Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘The Oxen’ alludes to an old legend, one that says that at midnight on Christmas Eve the animals all kneel down in anticipation of Christ’s birth. It’s an old legend, but it carries within it the idea that, at the critical moment, just before the birth of Jesus, all of creation held its breath and waited. Just for a moment, everything stood still. As if, just for that moment, everything was at rest.

That’s what we believe. Not that cows kneel down in their cowsheds but that, at the moment when Jesus Christ was born, that highpoint of all human history, there was a moment when everything stopped. This was the moment everything else had been leading up to. Everything strained to listen; to hear the voice of God in that new baby’s cry.

Maybe we’re not still enough to hear God

A non-stop world has…

I think it’s in the silence that we hear it. But at this time of year, who can stop? Who has time for silence? But if we could, if we did, then maybe… But we have so many things to do!

In Deuteronomy 27:9, Moses and the priests say: “Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God.”

All the working and shopping and cooking and wrapping.

Psalm 4:4 says: “Search your heart and be silent.”

We carry so many worries, so much anxiety.

Habakkuk 2:20 says: “The Lord is in his holy temple, be silent before him.”

When Jesus Christ was born, that highpoint of all human history, there was a moment when everything stopped

It’s exhausting. No wonder we all fall asleep after Christmas dinner!

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus instructs us: “Come to me ... and I will give you rest.”

I’m sure we are all familiar with the Elijah story, and the part of the narrative where he escapes from Jezebel and hides in the cave, where God is going to come to him. The Bible tells us there was a wind. But God wasn’t in the wind. And an earthquake. But God wasn’t in the earthquake. Then the fire. But once again, God wasn’t in it. And then we read that delightful expression: “There came a still small voice.” And there, we are told, is where God was. But the intriguing part is this. The Hebrew language doesn’t say “still small voice”, the NRSV gets it right when it translates the verse: “God was in the sound of silence.” You can see why that expression would give translators a headache. God was in the silence.

Maybe we’re not still enough to hear God. Or maybe we’re afraid that if we are silent for long enough we will hear God! That sentence may need some reflection.

It’s Christmas and, I know we’re busy. But find a time to stop and be; a time to find that sound of silence. A time to hear God.

A non-stop world has non-stop kids

Watching non-stop telly with their non-stop sales

Selling non-stop garbage, telling non-stop lies

In its non-stop fashion and it’s just not stopped.

A non-stop world has non-stop people

Under non-stop pressure at their non-stop parties

With their non-stop flirting and their non-stop hurting

Causing non-stop parting which will just not stop.

In a non-stop world…

I wish we could stop and remember that night. That silent night. That holy night.

Reflect again on these verses:

  • Deuteronomy 27:9: “Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God.”
  • Psalm 4:4: “Search your heart and be silent.”
  • Habakkuk 2:20: “The Lord is in his holy temple, be silent before him.”
  • Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

TAKEAWAY

Take out your diary and, in the month of December, mark at least a few mornings or afternoons (whole days, if possible) and block them off with the words “Listening for the sound of silence”.

PRAYER

“Father God, in our non-stop world, help us to stop, and think, and thank. Amen.”



« Back to the November issue

comments powered by Disqus
You may also like...

During World War One and World War Two, millions of people gave... More

Registered users only: Download as a PDF here.  More

It’s not often I come back to work after my day is over to write... More