Christmas to me spurs me on to think about how Christmas is cold on the outside and warm on the inside!
A mid-winter celebration which began as a purely human response to the coldness and hardness of winter and a celebration of light in darkness lit by the burning of a live tree in the forest accompanied by singing and dancing as a show of human bravado against the cold elements of this world, has been taken, by the God who created us, loves us and sustains us, and made into something even more spectacular: the celebration of the birth in earthly time of the Son of God through whom all things were created; Jesus Christ, true Light of the World.
Christmastime, when we now celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, is the warmth of God’s love penetrating the coldness of our world which, without God, is simply a piece of cold rock swirling around in a universe of darkness and gloom. The birth of Jesus Christ is a gift to us all; the greatest gift we could ever have because it tells us where we came from, shows us where we are now and gives us hope for a better future.
One of my favourite Christmas poems is simply called ‘Christmas’ by the poet John Betjeman. The last verse sums it all up for me because it makes a link with the gift of the Eucharist through which every day can be Christmas Day for those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear: “No love that in a family dwells, no carolling in frosty air, nor all the steeple-shaking bells can with this single Truth compare; that God was man in Palestine and lives today in Bread and Wine.”
(Christmas by John Betjeman)
At Christmas the Son of God became the Son of Mary so that all of us might become the adopted children of God and with Jesus have the right to call God our Father. That is pure gift and it is the reason we give and receive gifts from one another at Christmas.
May you experience the warmth, generosity and love of Christmas this year and every year. Warmth, generosity and love from God to everyone and from each of us to one other… and that's Christmas to me.
O God, who have made this most sacred night radiant with the splendour of the true light, grant, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth, may also delight in his gladness in heaven. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
(The Opening Prayer of Christmas Midnight Mass)
Canon Tony McBride