Letter from the Rectory December 2017
The season of Advent is intended to be a time of reflection and waiting. In reality, most of us re will be working through a long list of little jobs to do. There is little time to reflect upon what is both a story familiar to all of us since childhood but also an amazing fact, too hard to take in, that at the first Christmas God came to earth as a human being.
If we are able to stand back and look objectively, the way that God became human is so surprisingly. He was not only born in very humble surroundings, but as an adult he identified himself with the poor and marginalised rather than the influential and wealthy. He identified with them not just by walking alongside them, but also by becoming one of them: becoming someone who was despised, misunderstood, dependent on others for food and for friendship; and paradoxically ultimately someone who was so threatening he had to be killed.
Some Christmas Carols characterise Jesus as the little baby, meek and mild, asleep in the hay. They omit the fact that he became a man who was very much aware of the pain and brokenness of this world. There is one less-known carol from the Quaker tradition that does capture this:
‘What have they done with you, child of the manger, child of my childhood and seal of my soul?
They have carved me in stone, O child of my passion, and drowned me in dogma and trammelled my will. They have wrapped me in tinsel, and sold me on counters, tuning my song to the ring of the till.
How can I find you, O child of the manger, child of my childhood and seal of my soul?
You will find me as ever, with blind and with beggar, the hungry and homeless, the broken in heart. At home with the homeless, I dine with the outcast, and if you receive me, then there I shall be.’
As we bustle through Advent and prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth again, let us celebrate too the person he became, the example he set us and all that he did for us on the cross reconciling us to God.