The singing of Handel's Messiah at Christmas has become a tradition in Dublin. One of the most powerful choruses sung by the choir is a quotation from the prophet Isaiah,
'The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together'.
No doubt when Isaiah spoke in these terms his listeners thought they knew what was to happen. The expectations were that the splendour and power of Almighty God would be unveiled. They had seen something of the glory of Solomon, with his wealth and greatness. One day, they thought, God will show us what he is really like, the same way.
And yet, when God came to show his glory, it was all so different. The one who is the creator and ruler of all things, emerged in Palestine as a baby who could not speak or eat solid food or control his bladder and who depended on a teenager for shelter, food and love. He came among us in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the new-born King but a feed trough. Extraordinary, the event which divided history and even our calendars into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could easily have stepped on him.
Simon Jenkins describes it this way.
Like a landlord becoming your lodger
Like your managing director up before you for an interview
Like Beethoven queuing up for a ticket to his own concert
Like a Headmaster getting the cane
Like a good architect living in a slum built by a rival
Like Picasso painting by numbers:
God lived among us.
St. John puts it in these profound terms:
'The Word became flesh ..... and we saw his glory'.
This message of Christmas is amazing but simple. It is 'we are never alone'. It means that no matter how bleak this year seems to be we do not have to face it on our own. The one who knows us better than anyone else is with us.
So.... 'the practice of Christmas' is the most life affirming thing we can do this year.
If you are standing in a queue, talk to the person next to you.
Have a slow walk around the village and stop and chat to people. (It's easier if you have a dog or a baby with you!)
Wish strangers a 'Happy Christmas'.
Visit neighbours you have not seen for a while or invite your nearest around for mulled wine and mince pies. Offer to do practical jobs for shut-ins, or someone who is sick or a lone parent like putting out their bin or offering them a lift.
To those driven to begging or out of need are selling 'the big Issue', look them in the eye and honour them as people.
In loads of different ways we can say 'You are not alone. It's Christmas, God is with us'.
These are the best presents you can give and they do not cost a cent!
Have the best Christmas ever.
Fr's Philip Curran and Tom Kennedy - St. Mary's Catholic Church
Rev. Scott Peoples - St. Andrew's Church of Ireland
Rev. Richard Heuston - Lucan Presbyterian Church
Rev. Trevor Morrow - (Emeritus Minister) Lucan Presbyterian Church
Rev. Tawanda Sungai - Lucan Methodist Church.