I asked the Year 10s at school what we should make the focus of the final chapel for 2010. "get back to the real meaning of Christmas" was the reply. Given the commercialised world today that was not bad for 15 and 16 year olds. But what is the real meaning of Christmas?
I invite you to take time and ask yourselves the same question. Please avoid a few temptations:
Remember the music you have heard today sung by choir, and we sang together. You have a full copy of the service today at home read again the bible texts, particularly the Old Testament ones. Allow your opinions/views to be challenged by what you may discover.
Christmas is essentially about God intervening in the flow of human history to restore the broken relationship that had existed between himself and humanity since the fall of Adam. From our Christian understanding we look back into the Hebrew Scriptures and find our plight and its remedy described. Christmas celebrates the coming of a long anticipated act of God which, in its final outworking in the resurrection, would see a new relationship between humankind and God established. It is this the renewal of a right relationship with God, which is the central matter of celebration.
Along the way we celebrate minor details of miraculous pregnancy and birth, angels, historically significant locations like Bethlehem, shepherds and wise men but the biggest celebration is the beginning of the restoration of our relationship with God. As you enjoy more Christmas carols and choral work this week, please listen for some very clear declarations about what Christmas really concerns. Ask yourself how far modern celebrations have wandered from that central part. Reflect on the theme of God seeking and devising a new beginning wonder at his art in so doing and wonder at the new beginning in living with God it made possible. As we say in the baptism liturgy all for you, little one....
Christmas is not a time to be endured or survived, but something immensely personal and particular for every one of us. It concerns our souls journey with God.
Perhaps then we will better know why we sing so joyfully Christ is born in Bethlehem. Amen.