Christmas Day readings, prayers and reflections are available below.
CHRISTMAS DAY FRIDAY 25 DECEMBER
"Christians awake! salute the happy morn
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born;
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin's Son."
Almighty God, you have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him and as at this time to be born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
Hebrews 1:1-4, John 1:1-14.
May the simple faith of the shepherds, the adoration of the angels, and the love of the Holy Family be the ground of our worship and witness now and at all times.
Look with mercy on a world which has not heeded the angelic message of peace. Bring the nations knowledge of the love which has been from the beginning and which no sin can extinguish or folly destroy.
May the sick find healing, the sorrowful comfort, the despairing hope and the dying assurance. Bring the wandering and homeless to shelter. Shield the newly born and the mothers waiting for the time of birth. We pray for the sick, for Mary Maxwell and Paul Evans.
Grant to the departed the peace that unites heaven and earth. We pray especially for Alexander Rudelhof who died this week.
Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas Day)
On the Prologue of John
“In the beginning God.” are the opening words of the Bible. “In the beginning was the Word” the words with which we began the Gospel this morning. The old covenant here comes together and is fulfilled in the new covenant. For the Jews of the old dispensation “the word of God” was a common expression. The “Word” was “Logos” and it indicated an intermediary form between the divine and the human. That in Christ we see one who is fully human and fully divine.
Jesus is the power of God made manifest. The power of God which created the world and who sustains it now assumed in human flesh and blood: flesh that would be torn, blood that would be poured out, assumed its human form and nature so that the world could be redeemed and our salvation assured. In his Incarnation Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God. Here is the “word made flesh.” Here the dwelling of God is with man.
Jesus became the partaker of our humanity, so that we could be partakers in his divinity. From the beginning of creation and the human order, it was the purpose of God that we be fully united with him. When Jesus comes to us in his Incarnation and his Nativity, God is made known, God is made accessible and made to be apprehended as the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and he bears for us the same love as he manifested in his Son.
All things, all we know, all we see, hear, taste, apprehend, understand bear the mark of God. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” All this through the expressed will of God through Jesus Christ; who is both outside of time and within time, Incarnate with us. Together with the Spirit whereby God breathed life into the world and into his creation, God as Father and his Son is bound in love, in love within the Holy Trinity, and the reciprocity of love which exists there is that love in which we too have some part and share and exchange. In the Trinity is mutual love and knowledge. S. Augustine speaks of the Trinity as “The Lover, the Beloved, and the love that flows between them.”
Life, however, is trying enough without having to contemplate the metaphysical reality that we were created in the Trinitarian image of God. And we simply need to look around us to realise that we have not done very well in creating a kingdom of love here on earth. But if we have not realised the kingdom of God in the world, or the kingdom of love in our lives, it is surely because God’s creation is one of freedom, of our free will, freely implemented, our free will to respond or not to respond. We are free to be what we were created to be, or not: that is the crucial gift, the cross-bearing gift. We are free to create a society, economic, political, cultural and social that is bound by a mutuality of love rather than a mutuality of fear, of self-interest.
We exist as Christian within a material world of time and space, flesh and blood, human consciousness, human relationships. For a time Jesus shared in that life without being tainted by it and he shares it still. He stands both in time and in eternity. In him is our hope, that mainspring of our lives. We can lose sight of what matters in all the busyness of living. We can be unsure of our identity even, not at all sure who we are or who we are meant to be. We judge ourselves on our successes and sometimes even more by our failures. We need to remember that we are born of the love of God in the Trinity and we can trust in Jesus who shared and shares with us. His Word is the ultimate voice of love and peace and if we allow ourselves to listen to that quiet insistent voice of his love we can begin to translate that inner word into outward deeds of charity, of love.
Christ Church, Hampstead 2020