I’m by the LAAT nativity scene – Joseph, Mary and Jesus – the Christ child – God made human.
The carols and stories seem to tell us that the night God was made man – the night Jesus was born – the world went silent – peace rolled out to blanket the earth….. everything in creation took a deep peaceful breath all as one….
O little town of BethlehemHow still we see thee lie!Above thy deep and dreamless sleepThe silent stars go by
I don’t think it was like that. Bethlehem was full to bursting because Caesar had called everyone in for the census to be counted. Every pub, boarding house, hotel full to bursting. Every home full to the brim with distant relatives who had descended uninvited, maybe unwelcome. Don’t you tell me that Bethlehem wasn’t full of arguments and resentment and squabbles and maybe even drunken brawls. There were families worrying about how the food was going to stretch to feed even more hungry mouths. There were con men conning, landlords charging way too much for way too little. There was a mad ruler who was about to have all the babies murdered. There was abject poverty alongside obscene wealth. There were rulers the world over who ruled for the benefit of them and their rich mates with out a care for the people they ruled. Sound familiar?
But in one place there was peace…. In that stable, with the baby that was Jesus, there was peace for anyone who sought it. The shepherds sought it, Mary and Joseph listened to God and embraced it, the angels worshipped in it, The wise men were on their way to experience it. In that stable with Christ there was peace
Silent night, holy night, All is calm all is quiet round yon virgin mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild.
Round Jesus there was peace to be found.
And that’s what my hope is for you this Christmas; that amongst the squabbles and tiredness, in between the worries and noise, in the middle of presents and batteries and trying to brown the spuds; you’ll find a moment to sit or stand and find that peace. Maybe in your church, or across the fields as you walk dogs, or in front of the Christmas tree, or on your way out, or on your way to bed, or as you put stuff away or get stuff out; I hope that you will find just a minute to stop, to pause, to hold your breath and take in the peace that was in that stable in Bethlehem the night God became man. Because that’s the promised peace of Christmas – not in the world – but in the centre of every one of us. – no matter what is going on in our lives.
So, for all the LAAT tribe, the directors and I wish you the very best of Christmases, full of family and friends and a chance to relax. But most of all we wish you the peace of the Christ child.