Address – SANDS service, Crichton Memorial Church, 19/12/2013

I heard of a very strange auction that was held back in the 1920s in America.

Not the usual items that you find on all these daytime TV antique shows that I watch if Jeremy Kyle isn’t on (what an admission! – well, I am retired….and one’s got to watch something before “Pointless” comes on at 5.15!)

The items in this particular auction consisted of 150,000 patented models of old inventions which hadn’t really worked nor caught the imagination of the buying public.

There was, for example, a “bed-bug buster” and an “illuminated cat” that was designed to scare away mice.

Then there was a device to prevent snoring: a trumpet that reached from the mouth to the ear; and was designed to awaken the snorer and not the neighbours.

And then there was the adjustable pulpit that could be raised or lowered according to the height of the preacher. Tall minister – UP it goes! Wee bauchle like myself – the lowest setting

Well all or most of these 150,000 items caused a lot of mirth amongst the bidders.

But for 150,000 others, it was no laughing matter, for these were the inventors.

These 150,000 old patent models also represent 150,000 broken dreams.

They represented disappointment, of hard work and love and time and patience that had come to nothing

Most of us – particularly this evening know about broken dreams and disappointments

‘Tis the season to be jolly. But it’s not jolly for everybody, is it? For those who have lost loved ones this can the hardest part of the year.

I love Christmas.

But this Christmas will be the first I’ve spent at home without my wife who died last year.

She used to sit opposite me at the other end of the dining room table – but her chair is empty – she’s gone.

How many of you have “empty chairs” in your hearts, particularly at this time of year?

Most of you; most of us.

Whatever the time of year, for many of us gathered here, life can be a difficult – Christmas or any other time and especially, when events trigger a thought or a feeling that brings it all back to us – the disappointment, the unfairness of it all, perhaps even a creeping sense of bitterness or resentment that others have fuller family lives than we do.

The family side of Christmas is important, of course it is.

But deeper within those of us who are people of faith, it is the appreciation of the tremendous gift of salvation given as God in Christ stepped into time at Bethlehem to accomplish our salvation that is most important.

Salvation – it means saving from sin, of course. But, non theologically speaking – are we not saved also from ourselves, from bitterness and sorrow, negativity and a sense of unfairness? Perhaps even from envy and resentment that others have what should have, ought to have?

And what does one do with this appreciation? How do we please God during this season?

One way is by reaching out to others, especially when we are sorrowful

We who have been through the “ the valley of the shadow” can end up being a comfort for those who walk in darkness.

Happy or sad, may the Lord Jesus bless your Christmas with joyful thanksgiving of what Almighty God did to make a way for us to be renewed with peace , because of that first Christmas.

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