Christmas is a time of surprises.
Some people may even be surprised to be here give the Mayan prophecies that the world was supposed to end on 21 December 2012.
The Christmas story we hear in the readings through the service of Nine Lessons and Carols is full of surprises.
IT’s a surprise that Bethlehem is named by Micah as the town where the Messiah will be born. It’s the least in the tribe of Judah. We may have expected Jerusalem which was located in the land of the tribe of Benjamin, or Samaria in the land of the tribe of Manasseh but no, it was Bethlehem.
If it had been today we might have expected Jerusalem, or Rome, or perhaps London or New York but instead heard the name of a small rural town seemingly in the middle of the countryside.
It was clearly a surprise for Mary to be pregnant. She spent time with her cousin Elizabeth (3 months!) discussing what has happening to her, and to Elizabeth.
It was a surprise in the manner in which the Messiah was born. Not in a place but in a manger in a stable outside an inn. Today’s equivalent of a lean to in the car park with some packing cases and bubble wrap.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the Messiah still comes to us, in surprising places, in surprising circumstances, at surprising times. He still wants to meet with us.
Christmas is more than reflecting back and remembering something that happened 2000 years ago. It’s also a calling into the present that story and making it real for us again as God once again breaks through and becomes incarnate in a new and surprising way in His gift to us, Jesus.
All we have to do, as with any gift, is to accept it. Accept again the gift of God in Jesus so that we can know the true peace and joy of Christmas and experience for ourselves the love that God shows for each one of us.
So that we can experience perhaps the biggest surprise of Christmas of all.