Life is a flame that is always burning itself out; but it catches fire again every time a child is born. Life is greater than death, and hope than despair. (George Bernard Shaw)
I hope and pray that you all have a blessed and joyful Christmas. Welcome to those who have returned home from other parts of Ireland or from more far flung locations. Welcome to those who live locally and who make up our permanent community of faith. We reach the end of another year, marked by its own events on so many fronts. Yet, for most of us, it is the events of daily life—the moments of joy like the birth of a child or the marriage of two people who love each other dearly, or the tragedies such as bereavement or sickness, that make up the landmarks of our living. We welcome Christ today, into this world of joys and griefs, with the hope that his coming might set us again on the path of hope and peace.
At the beginning of Advent, I suggested that we might read the texts of the Prophet Isaiah with three points of focus—that we are encountering the holiness of God, that we are journeying towards a new Sion, where the worship of God is real, and that we are discovering what it is to be an “anointed” people, a messiah people, who enjoy intimacy with God. As we come to the moment when Christ is born anew in our hearts, I pray that you have found the way to understand that holiness, that call to the holy place, that vocation to be anointed and to bring God to be present in our world. It is into that world of hopes and dreams, fears and sorrows that these realities must be born, and born from the very Christ who is born in our hearts anew today. Carry these beautiful and powerful gifts—these new forms of “gold, frankincense and myrrh” into the adventure of life in the new year ahead.
Christmas in most languages has connotations of birth. I love the quotation from GBS that you see above. In the flickering light of our own humanity, we stand by the crib today to be renewed by the birth in our hearts of Jesus Christ. By the flickering light of our humanity, we look anew at our broken but beautiful world. We look at our own lives and the life of our community—and yes! Life is greater than death and the hope born today is greater than every despair! A blessed Christmas to you all!