At the end of his act the comedian Dave Allen always raised his glass and quietly toasted his audience with the words “Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you.” … a relatively inoffensive way to end his shows which usually contained words to upset some viewers! And yet his was an accurate observation – that for different people – God meant different things. Your God, he said.
That people are inclined to create their own gods was recognized by the Old Testament prophets who railed against those who worshipped images carved in wood. The apostle Paul condemned those “whose god is their belly.” Both of these would have been critical of Allen’s toast. It depends what sort of God you are talking about!
In this post-modern world with competing images of what is real, it is not surprising that people should have different ideas about what God is like. At Christmas time there’s always a temptation to think of God as a kind of cosmic Santa Claus, a kindly and beneficent figure whose mission is to bring happiness to all and make us feel good.
Well of course God does bring happiness or more accurately joy which does not depend so much on circumstances. But there is much more to God. Whereas Santa Claus comes with a “Ho! ho! ho!” God comes as “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
The message of the first Christmas was that God was stepping into history and revealing himself. The key players in the nativity story, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds had an encounter with God is which he made himself known. When he grew up, Jesus said about himself, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” He was saying if you really want to know what God is like, look at me! He is Emmanuel – God with us.
So, Dave Allen’s words did indeed have some relevance and some truth. For those whose God is the God of the first Christmas, He does indeed go with us, provided of course that we walk with Him! Many of us can testify that amidst the uncertainties of the past year, knowing that this Holy God was with us has been a huge source of strength and comfort.
News from EBC
Services will resume as soon as it is safe to do so. Initially numbers will be limited but we’re really looking forward to singing God’s praises together in 2021.
On behalf of the members and trustees