Is this another Cathedral Christmas letter with the Dean making the annual appeal for us to come to Church at Christmas and ‘put Christ back in Christmas?’
If you don’t want to come to church at Christmas, fine! Of course you might have many better things to do – I mean ... well, think of it all – the turkey, the ham, the presents (lots of those), the family (with any luck) – already I can hear the sound of bottles being opened, the rustle of Christmas wrapping being ripped apart and young voices squabbling over who got what - and even the sound of older voices grumbling at being asked to lend a hand.
No, this letter is for someone else. (So don’t bother to read any further.)
I think this letter is for the young child I remember from long ago who gazed at the rather scrappy Christmas tree stuck in a bucket; was entranced by the lights and yearned to open the presents that were so casually stacked beneath it. All those wonderful shiny papers with Father Christmas, bells and holly all over them; and of course the ribbons – silver and gold but also green and red. And, oh yes, the name tags on the parcels ... he could see his name there too, and Mum and Dad.
In the dark of Christmas Eve, with the shining lights reflected in the window and the sound of the carols on the wireless, the sweet scent of baking from the kitchen, he would go outside and look back in at home with all those delights and he’d shiver with wonder and a kind of joy. Above him in the night sky the Southern Cross looked down and he longed for the sweet sense of wonder and mystery to never end, as much as he longed for the morning that was to come.
I imagine time has caught up with that child. Are his knees stiffer as he bends to place a present beneath the tree? Does he still go out to look at the night sky and back at the Christmas lights of home? Is there still a yearning and an ache in his heart? And is he still child enough to be humble and wonder at the deep mystery of God among us?
I hope he will make his way to church this Christmas, he and all the children whom we love or carry within our hearts.
With warm wishes for you all this Christmas,