Thursday, December 24, 2009

Homily / Sermon for Christmas

I will be preaching this homily - slightly adapted, at each of the masses for Christmas Day (vigil, night and day).

Have you ever really looked at the Christmas Tree?

In every house, in every town and every city it can be seen. It is drawn on cards and is on display in show windows. In the middle of a cold and barren winter, it stands tall and strong and unfailingly green. While other trees are lost of leaves, while plants recede into the ground, while buds hide and wait below frost and snow, and the land lies dull as if dead or dying, the evergreen Christmas tree is a symbol of hope, a promise of new life, a harbinger of victory of life over death.

And what of the decorations on the tree - the baubles, glimmering and sparkling, catching the light as they move gently in their place. They claim our attention, so perfectly formed, like small worlds, yet so frail, so needful of our care. They remind us of the wonderful universe created by God, full of colour and beauty, yet so fragile - held in place by the strand of God’s love. This the universe which Christ came to save.

And the lights flash in their places, small candles which punctuate the shadows. Only pinpricks in the darkness now - but they represent a much greater Light. They remind us that child whose birth we celebrate is the Light of the World, who has come to cast away the darkness of the night, and light the way for us to the place where darkness vanishes for ever.

And at the top of the tree we often find an angel - a messenger from heaven, who proclaims the coming of the Saviour to the lowly Virgin and who reminds us of all the heavenly host who surprise the shepherds and sing the glory of the one who is born.

And with the angel - or even without the angel - there is usually a star. Bold, dominant and commanding the scene. A reminder of another star. And another place. A star which points to heaven - and marks a place on earth. A star which says that this humble place is where heaven touches the earth, where divine and human meet, where God dwells with men, where the word becomes flesh.

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