Yes we are at that point in the year again!
Advent, Christmas, it seems to come upon us so quickly, yet we have been told how many days there are left, for months now, and I should imagine most of us began some of our preparations long ago!
Christmas day, is a unique day isn’t it? I mean, at one level it’s a day like any other, falling rather predictably between the 24th and 26th days of the 12th month. But at another level it’s a day like no other.
We’ve been building up to it for weeks, months even, and the sense of anticipation has been mounting inexorably. From garish grottos in garden centres, to cheesy canned Christmas music round every corner, there has been no escaping the increasingly imminent arrival of Christmas day itself. And then it arrives.
And what, I wonder, will that day hold for you? Giving? Receiving?; Eating? Drinking?; Family? Loneliness?; Happiness? Sadness? For each of us, that day will bring a unique mixture of emotions and activities. But then, as quickly as it began, it’ll all be over. The day passes, and we wonder ‘where on earth’ it went. For many it will disappear and the new year with all its challenges will take over.
However as believers we are surely challenged to tell others ‘what on earth’ this day meant, and still means. Dinah Washington famously sang ‘What a difference a day makes’, and this is certainly so fitting for Christmas day. What a difference this one day makes.
Within the Christian tradition, Christmas is a day of celebration, but it’s also a day of remembrance. It points back in time to another day, long past, when a young woman gave birth to a child. Just another day, just another birth. And yet we believe that that day, that that birth, in some way changed everything. The birth-day of Jesus, one moment in history, one day among many, is celebrated as the moment history changed, the moment God became human.
The Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn puts it beautifully in his song Cry of a tiny babe: ‘Like a stone on the surface of a still river, Driving the ripples on forever, Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe’.
The prediction of the prophet Isaiah, comes true at Christmas, everything is changed for ever. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9. 6-7.
What a wonderful description - this is ‘what on earth’ Christmas means - peace, order and love. It is up to us to help this to be completely fulfilled.
Rev Michelle Ireland