He didn't plan the sin of Adam and Eve, they weren't robots that had to disobey. He didn't plan the rebellion of Cain and the sinful choices of humans. He didn't plan David's adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, he didn't plan the destruction of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar, the denial of Peter, the persecution of the church by Saul, etc, etc, etc. He didn't plan WW1 and WW2, or the Twin Towers or Isis, or child abuse, or disease or suffering. He didn't plan your suffering, your pain, your sorrow ... all these things (and of course many others that have never come about) were anticipated with varying probability by the all-knowing God before Creation, and so, before the creation of the world, the incarnation was a probability that the Trinity did not shy away from. Giving up heaven, leaving omnipotence behind, becoming human, vulnerable ... and, the source of life becoming a victim of death itself ... all of this is embraced by God the Trinity.
And so, at the centre of everything is Christ. This event, the birth of Christ and what it led to, stands at the centre of everything. All time is measured according to whether it happened before or after this one event. Every time you fill in a form, one of the questions will either be how long after the birth of Christ were you born, or, how long after His birth is it today.
Christ stands at the beginning because He was in the beginning. So John begins his gospel with "In the beginning, Jesus." The birth of Jesus is a cosmic event that impacts your life and mine, whether we want it to or not ... but I hope you do and I'll tell you why.
There are a number of possibilities facing each of us all the time. I wonder how many of you anticipated everything that has happened to you since last Christmas, or since we last gathered on Sunday. There are just so many possibilities, in our work life, our domestic life, our relationships, our health life, our national life, our international life ... so many possibilities, with varying degrees of probability and then how many different possible/probable outcomes for each of those!
BUT ... at the centre of all those, and in fact at the beginning of each of those and at the end of each as well, is Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, with You. God surprising your and my earth, our existence, with His Heaven. That helps us face every possibility, planned and unplanned, wanted and totally unwanted.
Christmas calls us who believe to a recommitment to live by faith because we might well be severely tested in the time ahead; it perhaps calls us who don't believe to surprise ourselves and others by choosing to believe ... that won't surprise God because it is one of the possibilities He has foreseen and prepared for in your life, but boy, it will surprise you. A final choice is to continue in our disbelief, which might not surprise anyone at all! Our reading described all three of these possibilities: