I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was a very young boy when I contracted German measles. I remember being very ill, so ill in fact, that as my mother was out all day teaching and I was allowed to sleep in my father’s large study in the parsonage we lived in. I remember too, that the doctor would call and see me as he made his round of house calls that day. He had his little black bag that he always brought with him, from which he would produce his stethoscope and thermometer etc. How things have changed? There are some circumstances I am sure where a doctor may make a house call, but it is far from the norm these days. Today we are expected to get ourselves to the ‘immediate care’ or the, ’emergency room,’ if it is that serious. If it is a genuine emergency, we may have an ambulance take us to the location where a doctor can then examine us. The onus is on the patient to ‘go’ because, quite simply, there aren’t enough doctors it seems willing to, ‘come.’
We can sometimes think of God in a similar sort of way – as the one to ‘go,’ the responsibility is on us to make the first approach or call. Look though, at the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke, or the opening verses of John’s Gospel, and we see a very different picture emerge. Running through them all, like a common thread, is the message that it is God who first comes to us. He came to Zachariah, then Mary, then Joseph, then the shepherds out in the fields; the approach was always at his initiative. He came bringing his word of promise, challenge, joy and hope, offering his love and his gift of new life – and so he continues to come today. Before we know him, before sometimes we are even aware of our need, he draws near, reaching out in welcome and extending his grace. Yes Christmas calls for a response, Mary had to say yes, Joseph had to understand the angel’s message and agree, the shepherds left their sheep. But in the end it is not about us coming to God; it is, above all, about him coming to us.