From time to time you hear people complain that others have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas, but I am much more surprised by how many really do understand. On the first Christmas of the First World War it is said people played football in No Man’s Land - there was something about the birth of the Prince of Peace they really understood - for one day the message that God had come among them was so powerful they couldn’t do anything other than lay down their weapons. An organisation called ‘Crisis’ sets up shelters for the homeless for a few days around Christmas each year - there is something about the message of the holy child born in a stable which makes people uncomfortable - for one season the message is so powerful that they are willing to do something about it. At this time of year people often say about a difficult or lonely friend or relative, ‘We can’t leave her alone at Christmas’ - there is something about the birth of the one who will say ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ which is powerful enough for just one short period in the year to make them do something about it. The challenge is that the meaning so many people understand isn't something which has no impact on us on 26th December.
(This reflection is adapted from parts of a sermon Canon Peter Mullins preached at services in the parish in 2004 and in the Cathedral in 2005.)