‘This time of year can bring challenges. Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration and getting together with the ones we love. For many it can be a painful time, a reminder of lost loved ones or of past disappointments and a compounding of loneliness. For those with families it can be a juggling act to keep everyone happy. There can be pressures to get everything just right. A supposed time of peace can descend into the very opposite. As a church we have been looking at the opening verses in Matthew’s gospel. An account of the build up and fall out of the first Christmas. Things were far from ideal! It has raised a question in my mind, why do we spend so much time, energy and often money, in our lives, to ensure we get everything just right. I am sure it is part of the human condition to make ourselves as comfortable as we can, but it seems to be in direct contrast to what we read in our bibles. Why couldn’t Jesus have been Mary’s second or third child? Mary and Joseph would have had time to establish a proper relationship and experienced raising children. Jesus could have been born into an established family. Instead, Joseph and Mary suffered many traumatic experiences. Had it have not been for instructions through vivid dreams for Joseph then they would not have even been together. Once Jesus was born things only got more chaotic. Herod ordered all males under two to be killed. Imagine the lasting damage that such atrocities would have on generations to come because of this one decision. No parent recovers from losing a child. Did things have to be this way? Is this what is meant by Jesus bringing peace on earth? Once again Joseph has a dream, and they escape to Galilee. Was all this done so the Prophets words about the saviour being a Nazarene would come true? If so, was there not an easier way? God’s way is not the easy way! When we choose to allow Him into our lives and follow Him, we will journey on a tough path. It will take us beyond what we imagined. Sometimes to breaking point. But Why? If we had our own way, we would live comfortable and prosperous lives. We would have many close friends and families that never argued. Our children would always behave and nobody would be ill over the Christmas period. God’s way builds faith, trust, perseverance, and character. It allows us to become bigger than the situations and the people we encounter. It teaches us kindness and grace and shows us the importance of love. It reveals our true nature and enables us to discover the areas of our lives that we have tried to bury and ignore. As God reveals Himself and His desires for us we become renewed.