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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

CHRISTMAS 2016

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As we come to our celebration of Christmas this year the world is such a different place. In the UK referendum the people unexpectedly voted for the Brexit. Then a few short months later the USA voted unexpectedly for President Trump how the world has changed and of course the world is constantly changing. We are all panicking about what might or might not happen in the places where we live and how the world events will impact on us and our families we will have to wait to see how everything turns out. Preparing for Christmas is often a very tense time with extra hours at work, standing for hours on the queues at the shops as the craziness goes on around us. For a great number of  people Christmas is not all it seems as they deal with the stresses of not being able to provide a good time for the members of their families. Or for many they may find themselves refugees in foreign countries.

As we think of our own families we also spare a thought for  the poor, the neglected, the lonely, the victims of disaster and war.  Now after all the preparations and fuss of recent days we have time to think about Christmas and what it is all about, time to ponder on the fact that the birth of the Baby Jesus is the supreme manifestation of God’s love for humanity. Our salvation came in the messiness, poverty, and the weakness of ordinary human life that is to say our ordinary often times messy lives. Jesus was born in a stable not a great palace or mansion he was welcomed by the shepherds this hardly seems like a very auspicious beginning for the dawn of salvation! Yet, we have hope because Jesus was born into the Family of humanity with all its messiness. Christ came and brought new hope and transforming joy for all. In the middle of our own dark nights of pain and anguish, God comes and transforms them into “holy” nights of his peace.

Amid the noise and clamor that that are part of our lives, the voice of God speaks to us in the “silence” of our hearts. The first news of God’s coming to us does not go to the wealthy or those in high political or religious positions but to the  lowly shepherds, who had no wealth, power, or privilege by any standards they were a scruffy bunch. God to whom all riches belong wants to be sure that the poor and lowly are the first to hear about the arrival of the messiah. The shepherds used to being left alone during their long, dark nights in the fields where they watched over their flocks were terrified at the appearance of the angelic mes­senger surrounded by the glory of God.  Who told them Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).The angel’s message to the shepherds is also for us in the here and now of today It simply states the good news of the birth of the Son of God into our lives. During these days of  celebration we will have occasion to sing as the angels did long ago, “Glory to God in the highest!” At this time when we celebrate the birth of “a saviour who has been born for us”, the One who is “Wonder- Counsellor and Prince of Peace,” the One who is “a great light”  we welcome the opportunity to put aside our cares and worries for a short while in order to bask in the joy of the season, and give Glory to God as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Emanuel who is God with us. Now with Mary and Joseph with the shepherds and Angels Let us take this story and the news of great joy into our hearts and let the joy and peace flourish within us as we pass this joy on. Let us be thankful for the light that is Christ the light of the world.  Let us hold this simple story of Jesus birth in the Manger in our hearts throughout the year whatever ups and downs it may bring.

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