The late Canadian artist William Kurelek, a man of deep faith, created a series of paintings published under the title of Northern Nativity. Each painting depicts a Christmas Eve image of the Holy Family in a contemporary, Canadian, equivalent of the Bethlehem stable. We see Mary, Joseph and Jesus huddled in the corner of a service station, a prairie grain elevator or an abandoned fishing cabin. But while the settings change, the human context remains the same. In each the world is unaware of the family’s presence. Around them, life continues, totally oblivious to the great miracle which has come to pass. Doesn’t the same thing often happen for us today?
How will you deepen your faith tonight when you arrive at church and find your regular pew inhabited by Christians who might only worship at Christmas or Easter? How will our children be helped to make time for Jesus in the rush to open gifts and compare them with what their friends got and with their own secret desires? What new reality is Christ working for you – what special gifts is he offering you – building and bringing to completion for you in this huge, mad , marvellous monstrosity that we call Christmas?
Yes, I love Christmas and everything that comes with it; trees, lights, carols, full churches, gifts, parties, friends, candles and family. But sometimes I wonder whether something, or someone, isn’t missing. The miracle of the incarnation is also for us today! For if the babe does not again take flesh, then the Bethlehem star is but an optical illusion leading to nothing. If we are not empowered to offer a gift to the one in need, then there are no wise men searching. If there is no praise or joy within our hearts, then there are no angels singing; no shepherds watching.
May the coming Christmas season be a time of renewal wherein we are blessed to experience the One whose birth we prepare to celebrate. May Jesus be born anew within us all! AMEN
Bishop Michael J. Pryse