Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.
O King of the nations, and their desire,
Readings (Click the links to see the readings)
Conditions for Christmas
If by some peculiar change
If the pungent odor of the stable
If our tattered minds of self-concern
Believing, we might understand
Christianity and Crisis, 26.21, 12 Dec 1966, p. 277
You gave your all to the world
Ah-Rang Lee. O Rex gentium, Europa Chor Akademie, dir. Joshard Daus.
Christmas gives us a story to listen to. It gives us a sense that what matters most deeply to us matters to God too. And it gives us a moment of stillness in a more and more feverish environment.
It gives us a story. If you go to a carol service, you'll notice that it isn't just about the story of Jesus' birth. It starts right back at the beginning of human history and tells us that everything started well and then everything went wrong, and we got so tangled in habits and attitudes that trapped us and damaged us that we couldn't get out again.
So the question stares us in the face—'Is this your story?' Did you start well and then find yourself snarled up in things that drain your life and energy?'
There won't be many people for whom that doesn't ring a bell or two. And then the story goes on to say something quite strange and surprising. God steps in to sort it all out. But he doesn't step in like Superman, he doesn't even send a master plan down from heaven. He introduces into the situation something completely new—a new life; a human baby, helpless and needy like all babies.
And it's by that introducing of something new that change begins to happen. Like dropping a tiny bit of colouring into a glass of clear water, it starts to affect the whole glassful. The Christmas story doesn't try to explain how it works. It just says, 'Now that this story, Jesus' story, has started, nothing will be the same again.'
So we're not being asked to sign up to a grand theory—just to imagine that the world might have changed. And most of us can manage that for a moment or two. Christmas lets us hold on to that for just a bit longer.