Today we remember, we witness, a most wonderful event. Two deeply, devoted, prayerful people, in a remote corner of Bethlehem, are preparing for the birth of a child, in a cave used to keep animals, because there is no room elsewhere, amongst Joseph’s relatives.
And this is the amazing thing; a strange and wonderful mystery: the cave is Heaven, the woman, the Virgin Mary, a descendant of King David whom he describes as the Queen clothed in an embroidered mantle of gold (Psalm 44), becomes the cherubic throne, only occupied by God Himself. In the humble manger, now filled with fresh straw, has become the noble place, where reposes Christ, the uncontainable God. In the silence of the night with no-one except a few of Joseph’s relatives aware of this, is a significant event which will change the world. The world is still and silent apart from the noise of those gathered for the Great Census required of them.
But there are witnesses, shepherds who are outcasts of society, never in the Synagogue, always out in the fields watching and guarding their flocks, undoubtedly unwashed and enveloped with the scent of sheep and goats. They are unable to be welcomed into society at large but are honoured to be the first called to see the is wonderful event. We are privileged to stand with them, as we recall the hymn, “What can I give you, poor as I am, if I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb, if I were a rich man, I would play my part ...
but such as I have, I give you, give you my heart”.
And what is this great event we have come to witness? Who is this lying in the manger? None other than the Word of God who destroys the sins of mankind, who brings freedom and new life to the world and to mankind. The one who has put on the garment of our nature, born to renew the likeness that had been lost of old. Through the Virgin Mother Mary, the Lord God, has taken on the flesh of mankind, our flesh, to fully reveal himself as our God and Saviour in order to unite us to Himself.
This Mystery, this action of God, was hidden from the leaders of Israel, who were now far astray. If only they had understood psalm 115 which they undoubtedly read frequently: “They (who have misunderstood the nature of God) have idols of silver and gold made by human hands. They have mouths but speak not, eyes that see not, ears that hear not, noses that smell not, hands that cannot feel, feet that cannot walk...... (And).... Their makers are like them and all who rely on them are also like them!” Eyes and ears closed!
Even we can forget that our understanding of God may be self-made, world-made, even, church-made and we are pulled away from true understanding, we too rely on ‘idols’. In this Holy Season, we pray that there may be a return of true understanding with eyes, ears and mouths, to acknowledge and praise; for God is now with us, the child in Bethlehem; more closely to us now than ever; He is on earth with us, our God and our Life.
“...such as I have, I give ... my heart.”. As we go forth, this Christmas, with the fullness of gratitude for the gift of Christ’s birth, we take the advice of St Pophyrios, “We must plug our heart into His love and be united with Him”
This is the gift of Christ’s birth; God gives us His Son and asks what in return? LOVE.
If St Nicholas, Santa Claus, visits us this night, and we hope that he will. We pray that our chief gift will be this: to have eyes which see, ears that hear and understanding that is enlightened, so that “We may plug our heart into His love and be united with Him”
May you all have a most joyful and blessed Christmas for Christ is Born, glorify Him!
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others