“Once in Royal David’s City, stood a lowly, cattle shed.” [a carol written by Mrs. Alexander]
If you asked me what heralds Christmas for me, it would be this carol sung on Christmas Eve which opens the service from King’s Chapel Cambridge. The clear treble voice of the chorister, the voice of a child bringing in the wonderful Holy Day. It creates an atmosphere of otherness, with the carols and readings which tell of the Nativity, reflecting on the beauty of the miracle of the gift of Jesus.
This may not be your idea of a peaceful, warm atmosphere, as each of us has our own “happy place” where we feel uplifted, happy and at peace. It may be a worthwhile exercise for each one of us to pay attention to these places in our lives. It may simply be sitting with a cup of tea watching the birds in the garden, or, a familiar walk round the neighbourhood, or even while doing the usual chores in the house.
All contribute to our well-being physically and psychologically as we take time for contemplation, this feeds our soul, and helps us to be in closer contact with God. You may not think of your happy time that way, but any activity or quiet time, which leaves us relaxed is a good sign that we have been in touch with the divine. A soul rested is a wonderful thing where the present fears and anxieties are quietly blown away and we find ourselves refreshed and renewed to deal with life and all that the future brings.
This time of year, we create an “atmosphere” when we decorate the house for Christmas, and this holds within it, a warm, festive feel of anticipation for the Great Celebration..Many of us [me included] set up the Christmas Tree and Decorations much earlier this year in order to cheer ourselves up. Yet more important than that is the atmosphere we create in our hearts, which reflects the real meaning of Christmas. An atmosphere where our Christian Faith comes to the fore, where we can offer Christmas Blessings to our friends and neighbours, where the Love of God shines out through us to the world. As the Christian Message is heard by so many at this time of the year, we pray that, “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all” is heard by so many and will have the opportunity to grow in People’s hearts and flourish.
We must never lose sight among all the carols , twinkling lights, colourful decorations, the present giving and receiving, never lose the meaning of Christmas in it’s truest sense. We must never lose sight of the Baby born in Bethlehem in poor circumstances. The Saviour of the world, a vulnerable child who might be seen as having no power or ability. Yet as we know every child has the power to charm and delight and the Christ Child certainly touched the hearts of all who attended, and all were moved to worship Him.
As each one of us organises our homes for Christmas, setting up that special atmosphere, let us deck our own hearts as a place made ready and welcoming for the Christ Child to enter in to the centre of our being. In the quietness, read the Bible accounts from the first two chapters of Luke and Matthew and take in just how faithful and trusting Mary and Joseph were. How they managed to overcome the difficulties and dangers which they faced when they had both said “Yes” to God. To become more fully aware that with wonderful blessing comes responsibility to carry out all that God has asked.
This year may we all take time slowly and carefully to prepare garlands of Love and thankfulness in our hearts, to make time for wide spaces of expectant listening to God. May we place lamps of Hope and Patience to shine brightly in the darkness of the fears and anxieties of those around us. I wish you all a very Blessed Christmas, different as it may be from our usual traditions, yet, at the centre of this is our worship of Jesus and thanks to God for the greatest gift, the gift of our Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.
LET US PRAY
OUR DEAR LOVING GOD,
We celebrate and worship You at this precious time of the year, a time set apart for joy and laughter, for love and caring, for thoughtfulness and memories of times past.
Help us to be clear as to why we celebrate Your Son’s birth day, how this wonder changed the world and how we as Your people can only stop and wonder in awe at Your Majesty and Your Gracious Love towards us.
You chose the most unsuspecting of women to mother Your child, and by Your choice gave new glory to humanity and family life. With the joy that was Mary’s may our souls magnify the Lord, may we continue to shine with the light of love which only You can ignite within us. May we find in all our restless seeking the wholeness found only in You.
We give thanks, O God, that this Christmas Season brings joy to so many people; That, whether they are people of faith or not, They long for peace and joy and love – They long to know and feel the spirit of Christmas Day
We thank You that in small human ways, so many people try to pause and honour their love for others with generosity. We celebrate this human longing to give to each other and to findthe simple joys in life.
We thank You, O God, for the far-reaching wonder of Christmas. We thank You for the gift of Jesus, as a baby in a stable. A Gift of Love beyond our imagining.
Open our hearts and minds to the wonder of this Love of Yours, Love which lies at the very heart of Christmas. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
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