A Christmas Reflection…
What is it about the ‘Christmas Crib’ that fascinates everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult? For young children it is probably the different animals, dazzling clothes of the ‘Wise Men’, the story of a child born in a stable. But what of the adults among us? Tonight many adults will approach the Crib and perhaps think back nostalgically to their own childhood and Christmases past? To a world and time when things seemed to be better than they are today?
The original Christmas Crib was used by St Francis of Assisi as a means to teach the people about the Christmas event and God’s love for them. At a time when many were illiterate he, like Jesus before him, used stories and images to teach important messages to his followers. So, from 1223, people have erected Christmas Cribs all over the world to remind us that God loved the world so much, He sent his only Son to us.
What is interesting about the Crib, and many of the stories, songs, hymns associated with the season, is that lots of them have no basis in fact. For example we see Three Wise Men – but nowhere in the Gospels is the ‘number’ of Wise Men mentioned. The opening words of the great Christmas hymn – Silent Night – again where is the factual basis for ‘all is calm, all is bright’? So where is it coming from? But that is not the point!
No matter their origin, we are invited by such phrases and ‘extras’ in the Crib to ponder on the fact that a world without God was silent and dark. The birth of the Saviour brings light and joy into a world darkened by sin. Yet, even at the very moment when Light is dawning on the world, there is also the terror and darkness of sin in the guise of Herod who seeks to destroy the Child.
And today, in Ireland (as we celebrate the Light of the world) there are many who are in darkness. I am not speaking of those who have chosen to live according to a different way but others who, through no fault of their own, are in darkness – those who have lost their jobs in recent times, mortgage holders who are in arrears, people with terminal illnesses, some of the elderly who are living in fear in their homes, people suffering from depression… you can add to the list yourself.
To these the Jingle Bells music and the bright red clothes people wear can bring pain and heartache, not joy.
But with a true understanding and celebration of the Christmas event – the Birth of the Saviour – can bring hope and a promise of a brighter tomorrow to those who are in darkness.
Yes, the Good News of the Birth of the Saviour IS for you. God loves you! Yes, I have so many problems to cope with but I AM loved by God. Just as the Angels sang with joy about the birth of the Saviour let you sing with joy that God loves you.
He is Emmanuel – God with YOU.
To all our SMA members, their families and friends, the people we serve (particularly in Africa) and all our supporters and benefactors: May Christmas and the New Year be filled with God’s choicest blessings. May He bless you and yours, now and forever. Amen.