4.5 Christmas Day

Son of Mary

If you have followed the symphony this far, you will have seen the great themes of our Bible coming together in the person of Jesus; I have tried to explore two very different strands: the ‘universal’ and the ‘particular’ the ‘universal’ truth that this Jesus was and is the fulness of God in human form, the Word made flesh, the answer for all, the one who was there at Creation and will be Lord at the coming of the Kingdom; and the ‘particular’ truth that God, in his wisdom or we might say foolishness, chose to reveal his truths through a particular group of people, from Abraham onwards, and kept to that plan despite their failings, called them back as a people again and again, and then, in what seems an even more risky move, shared our life in the person of Jesus, and lived in our world.

And – as we have been discovering – this makes Christianity a political faith, because God challenges sin, calls on his people to challenge sin and injustice in society as well as in our own lives, and in Jesus confronts the powers that be, and teaches that his Kingdom has first claim on our lives. It is not an other-worldly faith but a call to live in this world, and to discover God in this world.

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

And today, today is not a day to do much more thinking – we should be amazed and stunned that Mary is the mother to God, that God is born on earth, and will be dependent on Mary for milk, and warmth and nurture, will be a squawling mewing child as one poem puts it, not the “no crying he makes” version from Away in a manger.

And the angels sang in the night, for the shepherds, and they came hurrying to see.

And further afield the Magi, people of a different faith background were puzzled by some sort of star or light in the sky, whatever it was, which drew them in their curiosity.

And the result – they worshipped Jesus, this very ordinary child. They left costly gifts. They believed that this was the one, the one from God, and so they worshipped the child.

It might seem foolish to worship the child of a peasant woman, it might seem even more foolish to claim that this is the unlocking of all truth and the way to discover meaning and new-life; probably we don’t realise today just how radical this is, because it has become normalised in our Christmas celebrations.

Our symphony appropriately ends with the angels song, the messengers of God singing glory, and a mother pondering all these things in her heart.

Hark the herald-angels sing

Glory to the new-born King

And hopefully for us, our minds have been provoked; I hope something of the great messages of Scripture and their resonance for today has connected; in a world where there are so many other voices and noises and distractions, we have heard the voice of God, and we are drawn to worship, and to thank God.

O come let us adore him

O come let us adore him

O come let us adore him,

Christ the Lord

Today make time to go to Bethlehem and see the thing which has happened there (as the shepherds did), and let the final notes of the symphony, and the great themes of love, invitation, mercy, holiness, God with us, continue to echo and play in your soul and spirit.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

Risen with healing in his wings;

mild he lays his glory by,

born that we no more may die.

born to raise us from the earth;

born to give us second birth.

Hark the herald-angels sing,

Glory to the new-born King!