Risk Taking

The most recent edition of the Methodist Newsletter, that bastion of cutting edge Christian journalism, the back page includes an advertising feature from an insurance company masquerading as an article… And in it are listed, very helpfully, a number of things that we within churches should check before we start into this season of candlelit services and all the risks that they involve.
Now personally I understand the wisdom of that. Over the years I have watched Cub Scouts setting fire to each other’s carol sheets, scarves and even hair during Christingle services… On one occasion I managed to set fire to my own cardigan… an early Christmas present from my loving wife which I had put on for the first time that night… I have seen at least one advent ring go up in flames when one of the candles burned so low that the foliage around it caught fire… And a carol service nearly came to a premature end when a Christmas decoration caught fire, exploding and sending burning plastic all across the window sill on which it was sitting, setting fire to the cotton wool that was simulating the deep, crisp and even snow… The entire window frame then caught light… but the swift application of a fire extinguisher during the final verse of O Come all you faithful sorted everything out, and we just continued as if nothing had ever happened…
So in the light of that perhaps we should think carefully about some of the things we do in the run up to the big day. And helpfully, the company advertising in the Methodist Newsletter has a handy booklet on Health and Safety in Places of Worship, with a special leaflet for Advent and Christmas, to help with risk assessment.
Risk assessment… that just about sums up our world now… And as far as this insurance company and others are concerned there is much to be wary of at Christmas... Under-cooking the turkey or the stuffing and poisoning your guests. Over indulging in many different ways producing many different hazards. And then there is the ever present fear of burglary... "Wise men keep their presents hidden" we are told.
But when Christmas is to be assessed in terms of risks, then perhaps we have gone a little too far…
Indeed the whole Christmas story is based on the biggest risk in the history of the cosmos, God taking the risk of entrusting his son to humanity… to a couple who couldn’t even organise a bed for the child to sleep. If God took such a risk for our sakes then perhaps we should take a few risks this Christmas… if not with candles, or turkeys at least in reaching out to other fallible human beings…

Produced this as a Thought for the Day on Radio Ulster this week... The other two previously appeared here as rants on Dog Fashion and Heavy Metal, but were broadcast in a highly editted/censored style.


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