who wonderfully created us in your own image
and yet more wonderfully restored us
through your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as he came to share in our humanity,
so we may share the life of his divinity;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
This rather beautiful prayer is set for the first Sunday of Christmastide. It takes us right to the heart of Christmas; it helps us to see why Christmas is good news for all people.
Very simply it opens up for us the meaning of Christmas: God our creator has reached out to his fallen and estranged creation in the person of His Son Jesus to restore us to Himself. In Jesus God enters and shares our human nature so that we can enter and share His divine nature. One of the greatest thinkers in the first few centuries of the Church, St Athanasius, summed up the Gospel in these words: God became man that men and women might become divine.
At the heart of Christmas, at the heart of the Gospel, is a love story. It is the love of God our creator and Father for His children - for each and every one of His children. In Christ God comes to what is lost and brings us home; He comes to what has fallen and restores us; He comes to what is broken and heals us.
Christmas is a gift. It is not something that we have earned it is not something that we merit. It is a gift of God’s grace, God’s love; and it is for all, for all peoples in every age.
In Church at every season, but especially at Christmas, we try to reflect the grace and the welcome and the love of God that we see in Christ. During this time we are privileged to welcome many people and groups into Church, to sing carols and to hear the old story of the birth of Jesus.
As good Anglicans we don’t ask what brings people to Church, we don’t make demands of them. Our joy is to welcome and to celebrate with our neighbours the love of God in Christ. Some may come out of nostalgia, some with a deep faith, others not knowing why they are drawn or what or even if they believe. But Christmas is a welcome for all, an assurance that all are included in God’s love made visible in Jesus.
Come all and celebrate the good news of Christ this Christmas, come with faith, come with doubts, come and know that you are loved, that Christmas and Christ are for you.
God bless you this Christmas,