So they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:16)
Even though I did not grow up in a Christian household I still remember every Christmas Eve Mum would put on the radio and we would listen to festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. For us it marked the start of our festive celebrations. Even now the words from the opening prayer of that service stick in my mind as it calls us ‘in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and with the magi, adore the Child lying in his Mother’s arms’. For me, I think this is what we all need to do if Christmas is to come alive for us each year, if it is to speak to us with the same force and freshness, if it is still going to be good news.
The main trouble with the Christmas message is its very familiarity. We know it so well it can go in one ear and out the other, becoming just another part of the festivities rather than what this day and this season is all about. We need to picture ourselves in the fields with the shepherds, at the door of the innkeeper, at the stable in Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph, on the road with the magi, beside the manger with Jesus, entering with heart and mind into their experiences.
If we could just do that we will recognise afresh just what it meant to them, but also what it might mean to us, today.
God bless, and Merry Christmas