I am still the biggest child in our house when it comes to Christmas. I remember when I was little waking up at a ridiculously early time and rushing into to my parents room, waking them up, and demanding that we all troop downstairs to go and see ‘if he’s been yet’! I thought when I got older that I would take the place of my parents, having just fallen asleep after the nights preparations, only to be jumped on just as the dreams embraced me, but over excited children demanding that we get up at 2am. No. I still wake up early, desperately excited, and have to lie there waiting for the rest of the family to stir. Some years I give in and go and wake them up!
One of the favourite moments of Christmas Day with my work hat on is getting to church before everyone else and watching everyone arrive. It’s lovely hearing the sounds of cheery discussion, to see folks come in wearing their Christmas clothes and clutching new presents, to smell the smells of Christmas Day and to greet everyone with a hug or a handshake.
Preparing for carols at Wormley Court this week I read through the Christmas story, and as I did so was struck by it being all about different people travelling to Bethlehem, coming to see. It starts with Mary and Joseph travelling there to fulfil the requirements of the census. A tricky journey no doubt with the expectant mother enduring discomfort and hoping she’ll make it. Then we have the flight of the angels to declare the news on the hillside. We have the shepherds, on hearing this proclamation, running eagerly down into the town to find the manger that was spoken of and finally we have the wise men, travelling from the East, come seeking the new born king. Of course, there was one other who hoped to make a similar journey or so he said, Herod himself. Fortunately with divine intervention, this particular visitation is delayed just long enough.
No doubt this Christmas there will be many on the road, travelling to visit family and friends, maybe even having to negotiate snow!
There is, of course, one more journey to mention, that of Jesus himself, God the Son, emptying himself and taking on the form of a human baby; vulnerable, dependent, with us, indeed, one of us. This is the most vital journey and the most astounding of all, that God should put aside the power and status and comfort of the divine heavenly life and embrace the frailty of stable birth and human living. At Christmas, God himself came to see, came to see us.
And so, however you celebrate this festive season, and whenever you arise, early or late, I encourage you all to make time and space to come and see – come and see Immanuel, God born with us, and worship our heavenly King.
Church Newsletter Article, 9th December, 2012