We Wish You A Blessed (If Different!) Christmas (Ros' Blog)
Through the Roof has just held its first online retreat. Its theme was Finding God in Lockdown. We looked at the life of Samuel Rutherford in the seventeenth century who was banished from his parish and placed under house arrest at a time of persecution. We considered how we could follow his journey of initial depression, fear and sleeplessness through a process of turning his gaze to God and finally finding immense joy in the presence of Jesus with him in his confinement. We looked also at Psalm 27 and saw how David followed a similar path of fear and near-despair, and through turning to God in worship, arrived at a place of confidence and joy. We hope to repeat the retreat in the New Year – keep your eyes peeled for more information if it appeals to you and you would like to join us.
I have been reflecting since the retreat on what we learned, and thinking how appropriate it seems for this time of year when our thoughts naturally turn to the mystery of the incarnation of God in the person of a baby in Bethlehem. I can see a parallel in Samuel Rutherford’s banishment and imprisonment under house arrest and the journey that Jesus made, with the main difference that in Rutherford’s case it was imposed on him and in the case of Jesus it was voluntary.
Jesus, too, travelled a distance from his familiar sphere into an alien environment where He met hostility, even though He experienced love as well. He, too, accepted confinement, limitations and a restriction of His freedoms. Eventually, as we know, He paid with His life for the love He came to show us, and in doing so made possible the wonderful experience of fellowship with and acceptance by God that Samuel Rutherford knew and that we can also experience.
This year has been for many of us a time of lockdowns, separation from loved ones, restriction of freedoms, fear of infection and, for the clinically extremely vulnerable, this has been magnified to an unprecedented degree. My own daughter talked to me the other day about the fact that she is going to have to spend Christmas Day in her care home instead of among her family, and then added, “What does S-A-D mean?” For many like her, this is going to be a very difficult Christmas indeed. Many, also including my own family, have lost loved ones this year who are going to be sorely missed around the Christmas table. We can take confidence in a Saviour who understands what we are going through because he, too, experienced all of it, right through to the loneliness and terrible isolation of the cross.
He was willing to endure the cross because He knew a joy awaited Him – and it was the joy of being in a close relationship with you! As we endure this very difficult year, and for who knows how much longer, let’s press in to that relationship and experience the joy Samuel Rutherford found when he described the “love feasts” with Jesus and kissing the face of His Saviour that he experienced nearly four hundred years ago.
Our prayer here at Through the Roof is that whatever shape Christmas takes for you, it will be a time of closeness to Jesus, enjoying His love and His fellowship, and discovering or rediscovering the joy He gives which transcends all our circumstances.