Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Feast of Christmas, Thursday 25th December 2014

“Moses said to YHWH, “But, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence,
either before or since you have spoken to your servant.” Ex 4:10

The Feast of Christmas

For me the reality of Christ is best understood by artist, poets, musicians and children. So I offer a simple story that might just touch your heart. This story can help us by pass the sentimentality which so often seems to cloud the Christmas feast of the 'incarnation'.
Once upon a time ... there were some very poor people who lived in a forest village in old Rumania. Their poverty was most clearly reflected in the ramshackle Church which stood near the town centre. When visitors came, villagers often said apologetically, "Someday we're going to build a beautiful Cathedral like the one on the other side of the forest." Oh how they did admire the neighbouring Church. In fact, on special occasions, they often trekked through the forest to that big Cathedral. It just seemed that God was nearer to them in this majestic setting. When they made the trip through the dense forest, however, it was necessary to pass by a well which was supposed to be haunted. It was said that if you didn't throw a coin into the well, something would drag you down into it and you would never be seen again . . . (fear has a way of getting into all of our lives) ... One cold, dark Christmas Eve, a little boy named Raul passed by on his way to the Cathedral, carrying only a small candle to light his way. Back in the village, Raul's mother was terribly sick, perhaps dying. Raul hoped to place his candle on the altar of the big Cathedral and pray for her recovery. As he came near the well, he heard a moan. It was then he realized he had forgotten to bring a coin. Terrified, Raul started to run. But he tripped and fell by the well's edge. There he heard a child's voice. "Help me out. Give me your light so I can see my way." "This candle is for my mother," Raul said, trembling. "I must take it to the altar of the big Church so that she will get well." "Can you refuse me on the night of Christ's birth?" the voice from the well pleaded. Raul thought for a moment. Then he lowered the candle into the well and fell weeping on his knees in the darkness. Suddenly, the lighted candle returned. Looking up, Raul saw a child stepping out of the well holding the little candle in his hand. "Go back home," said the little child, "your mother will live." Raul ran home and found his mother waiting for him as though she had never been ill. Later that night, they went together to the shabby village Church to give thanks. When they entered, they were nearly blinded by the light which streamed from the altar. Bathed in such splendour, the old Church was every bit as beautiful as the neighbouring big Cathedral. "Why Raul," exclaimed his mother, "there is only one candle on the altar. How can one candle make such light?" Raul was too awed to speak, for as he knelt before the altar, he saw that it was his very own candle. The light he had given away had been given back a thousand-fold!

The profound truth of the Christmas Message is that the "Word became flesh" to show us in a once-and-for-all way what life is all about. The profound truth of the Christmas Message is that the 'Word became flesh' to show us what it means to be fully human. The profound truth of the Christmas Message is that the 'Word became flesh' to show us the Unlimited Love of a Gracious God, and to show us how to share it. The profound truth of the Christmas Message is, as the Apostle John has written, "The Word was made flesh and he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of trust and grace." (Jn. 1:14).