One of my favourite Christmas events is the Crib Services on Christmas Eve - and no, it is not just because Tina Molyneux does all the work,and not me! It is wonderful to see the churches full and hear the Christmas story as children recreate the scene in the stable, coming as stars, shepherds, kings/wise men and sometimes sheep! It's all compelling and utterly moving. Please do join us - 2pm at Littlewick, 3.15pm at Hurley and 4.30pm at Stubbings.
Reflecting on the scene
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke each contain part of story we recreate at the Crib Service. But St John begins his Gospel, not with stories of Jesus's birth, but rather with a deep reflection; looking back on the meaning of the 'incarnation,' God's coming and dwelling with us in Jesus.
In a very different way, hearing this read at the end of the carol services, and at other times over Christmas, is as moving as watching the children recreating the crib scene.
And the climax of St John's reflection is this: 'And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.'
A sense of direction
The 'wise men' followed the star and found it led to the infant Jesus. For them it was a journey, a journey that led to God's child, the child that John later saw as the source of all truth.
In an increasingly confusing world, Jesus beckons us all to journey through life with him. I am the way,' Jesus said, 'and the truth and the life.' Jesus is the one that can give direction and purpose to our lives and enable us to distinguish real truth from the superficially attractive.
We may not sing the words 'Happy birthday to you...' but at Christmas we do gather together to celebrate Jesus's birth. But all too often we then leave Jesus alone until, at the same time the next year, we come back and wish him a happy birthday once again.
It's my prayer that we will not let that happen this year, but rather, when we reach Christmas 2016, we will be able to look back with St John and say, 'we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth,' each and every day. May Pam and I wish you a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.