Monday, 19 December 2011
The faint echo of angels singing....
There are more attempts, this Christmas, by neo-pagans, to claim that Christmas is a pagan festival which was Christianized. The feasting and the drinking may be pagan in origin, but the season of Advent is deeply religious, moving and mysterious.
Some of us think that it is Advent rather than Christmas Day, that is the high point of the Season, along with inclusion of the marginalised - so clearly taught in the Nativity Story of people having "no room" or any provision for a pregnant young woman going into labour.
We enjoyed taking part in "Nine Lessons and Carols" last night in a full church, by candlelight.
I was surprised to be struck afresh by new understandings of Christ's mission: by his self-effacing birth and by the bravery of Mary, who could have been stoned for submitting herself to serve the will of God in the ancient world.
Jesus was "The Word", the Second Person of the Trinity, untouched by sin from eternity. At the Nativity, he took on human flesh with all its failings and corruption for one purpose alone: to save us from our own sins, from their wages (death) and from the mortal Enemy (there is only one enemy).
Being God, Jesus knew our peril and just how high the stakes are for us....that no one can win this battle alone, so formidable is our Fallen nature and our own selfishness. So Jesus was born a human man - to "save" us.
My husband's Christmas sermon (at this link) highlights that "saving" is what:
-firemen do for people in burning buildings
-helicopter pilots do for people on sinking ships
-charities do for starving refugees in times of famine.
Saving from sin and its consequences is what Jesus came for. He gave up his eternal immunity to pain, loss and touch of evil to do it.
Those who have "ears to hear" and still sense that reality is full of divine mystery may still hear the echo of the angels' song this Christmas. Because something spiritual happens when Christians gather for worship, some might even hear that "echo" in a humble, local church if they go along, in quietness and expectation and with a child's innocent and open heart.