Christmas comes but once a year…

To many people in our society, it is just that – one day when we all try to get together with family members, loved ones, friends… or maybe two days, if you count Boxing Day. There is a lot of fuss leading up to it. There are school breakups, end-of-year parties, work breakups, concerts, shopping frenzy, baking frenzy, clean up the house and decorate the tree frenzy! Then, a huge visiting, cooking and eating day, with presents to be opened, and drinks to be shared, and rarely a carol to be sung.

But for Christians, it is a twelve-day major Feast. Christmas Day is only day One. Advent has been our preparation time, and now we have arrived at Christ-Mass. Twelve days. Right?

I suspect most of us who attend church are between the two.

When I was a little girl, we always sat around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, and sang carols together, until it was time to get ready for Midnight Mass. We didn’t need booklets, or musical accompaniment; we just sang. Someone would start, and we would all join in. Somehow, one of us remembered thewords…

We have some different traditions now. What are yours?

This has been an eventful year in Australia. We have had a Royal Commission into Child abuse in institutions. The Christian churches, like so many other organisations, have sometimes failed dismally in its protection of the most vulnerable of us all – our children. It is a shameful thing. There are no excuses and no possible justifications.

Our country has continued its poor treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers. Climate change is worsening, and there are still people who deny the truth of thescience.

The plight of the homeless has worsened, and there are many who will have nowhere to celebrate this Christmas, and perhaps nothing to celebrate…

Terrorist events have happened again this year. We are still a country at war. Governments and leaders have changed – with or without elections. Famous people have died, and those who are unknown. Babies have been born.  People have become ill, and also recovered. We have had an election in   Victoria, and devastating fires already in Queensland.

Into this mish-mash and struggle, into this chaotic existence, creeps the  message of a baby boy, born two thousand years ago, into a struggling family, in a country under a powerful oppressor. Pursued by a despotic king, his family became refugees, but by the grace of God, he grew to be an adult of exceptional wisdom and gentleness.

This story is a part of our most precious story. It is the story most appropriate and worthy to be told to all children at Christmas.

Yes, there are other Christmas stories – of Santa Claus and elves and goodness and generosity – of the human spirit rising and overcoming against the odds – of children and animals – of lessons learned, and nations won. I love the film: “Love Actually”. It tells quite a few stories – small and unimportant stories, aboutthe human spirit of love. I always try to find time to watch it in December. But the story of Jesus is the one which resonates the deepest, because it is a story ofthe meeting of two worlds: the ordinary, and the extra-ordinary…. The human and the divine. Christmas is the time when heaven stoops to embrace the earth with love. May you have the opportunity to find and share the love of Christ this Christ-mass!

A Holy and happy Christmas to you all, from the Vicarage family!