Canon Adrian writes
Do you write a Christmas letter? A ‘round robin’? We do – a short one, nothing too boastful (I hope), just a few nice things we’ve done, health update, one or two family things, Happy Christmas.
I’ve just finished writing this year’s letter. And I’m conscious of how small our little achievements and happenings seem in a year where global and national events have felt overwhelming, overpowering, and often deeply disturbing. The referendum, the US election, Syria, Mosul, Berlin, migrants drowning, children abused – it puts our lives into a different perspective. It all feels weird, and out of control. One Church of England bishop said to me that, if he could arrange it with God, he would ‘stop the world, because he wants to get off’. I know how he feels.
Despite all the trappings we’ve thrown at it, the first Christmas was as small an event as you can imagine. Bethlehem was really small back then, a backwater. Mary an unmarried mother with an extraordinary story to tell. Joseph an older man, who had bravely taken her on, despite knowing that he wasn’t her child’s father. A birth in a back room, an animal feeding house. None of this made much impact at the time.
Not at the time – but the consequences of this birth turned out to have an extraordinary impact. And still can, if only we will let its truth touch us, and its message inspire us. The way forward is all there in the carols we sing:
Where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.
Man at war with man hears not
the love-song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
What I can I give him -
give my heart.
The poet Louis MacNiece wrote that ‘world is crazier and more of it than we think’. Not half. And if that’s how you feel, immerse yourself afresh in the smallness of the Christmas story this year. The greatest Love imaginable can be found there. May it give you strength and peace in this holy season, and through the new year.