THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, Christmas Eve
posted on 24 December 2005
Good morning …
There is a lot happening this Christmas. But it is not in the shops and the parties and the pulsating lights. To find out what is really going on you have to stop and listen; and maybe you will hear it: a sharp, persistent cry: the cry of a baby: God’s cry, as he visits his people.
He is the Word made flesh, yet newly-born he cannot speak. But goodness, how he wails. Every mother knows that imploring sound: it stops her in her tracks, makes her put everything down and run towards the child. It is a cry for help and protection; a cry for love and intimacy. The Child of Bethlehem cries on behalf of the lost and the lonely, the exiled stranger, those struck by grief; his is the cry of the elderly who spend most of their hours alone, the prisoner who faces his own guilt, the AIDS orphans and the farmers longing for rain. They are not asking for much: just to be part of the human family.
I leave tomorrow for Sri Lanka, for a 10-day visit to the places still devastated by last year’s tsunami waves. I’ll be returning, like the Magi, on Epiphany – who knows? - a little wiser. In the stories of the fishermen of the communities there I know I will meet the Christ-Child of Bethlehem, crying on their behalf. But do not forget he cries for you too, whoever you are: for deep in our own hearts we are all pleading for intimacy and merciful love. When you are with those you care for this Christmas, I hope you will listen for that cry in the hearts of others and that the cry of the hearts of the people outside your windows stops you in your tracks.
At the end of Christmas services in eastern Europe people kiss one another with the words, ‘Christ is born!’, and the kisses are returned with the answer: ‘Truly He is born!’. You can kill people in crowds, but you can only kiss them one by one. The message of the Christ Child is that we are not a crowd. We are many; but God sees only each of us.
Tonight God slips gently into the world as a child, to be with us. There is nothing we have done that cannot be forgiven; there is nothing about us which will stop God loving us.
Listen for the sound. God is crying for you and me. He wants to embrace you. To find out what is really going on this Christmas, let him.