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20 December 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 25-12-2015

We had a deanery conference on Tuesday. One of the priests had just bought a new copier and the young rep who handled the sale was very attentive. In conversation he asked the priest: ‘When do you break up for Christmas? ‘‘Whatdo you mean - break up?’. ‘Well, do you break up when the school does?’  ‘No, I’m in church at Christmas time’.’Oh’, he said.  Christmas, in his mind, simply did not connect with church. Perhaps it didn’t connect even with Christ.  Christmas, for some, meanspresents and a special meal to defy the dark and cold of winter.  Then, perhaps, there’s a second stage when they sing of baby Jesus lying on the straw in a manger but on the level of the little girl who asked ‘Why is it always a boy?’Finally we are among those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God come down from heaven but stop at asking themselves why he came. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews gets round to giving us an answer but very much from a Jewish point of view. The old catechism, if you remember, had a question: Why did Jesus Christ become man? To save us from sin and death and to teach us the way to heaven. Like a frame in a film which gets stuck we tend to halt on Calvary. The child in the manger was born to die. That is not the whole truth: he was born to die and to rise from death into a new existence and taking us over into thisnew world is how he shaped our destiny. His dying on the cross was the great lesson he gave on how we are to qualify to enter his new world.  His being born as a little child in Bethlehem was first a most wonderfulexpression of God’s loveand compassion.  And love was his simplemessage, his essential teaching.  There is only one way to follow him to heaven. Love one anotheras I have loved you - and his death on the cross for love of us was the supreme lesson he chose to give.     

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