Click below to listen to the Christmas Message from Bishop Seamus.
The story is told of that old grandmother Babushka; she was a good woman. One night she is about to retire to bed, it is a very cold winter’s night, the snow is on the ground and suddenly there is a knock on her door. It is the Wise Men, they are very excited as they tell her about the King born in Bethlehem and they urge her to come and honour Him. She looks out of the door, she feels the terrible cold, the blustery breeze on her face. Babushka looks back at her warm bed, she hesitates and says, “I will see the Christ-child – tomorrow”. She gets back into her bed and she is hardly in the bed when there is another knock at the door. This time it is the shepherds, urging her to come and if not to at least give them a basket of food to bring to the Christ-child. Again she looks at the weather, looks at her bed, hesitates but finally replies, “I’ll bring them myself – tomorrow”.
Well tomorrow comes and Babushka is as good as her word. She packs some food and off she goes to Bethlehem but she is very disappointed when she gets there – the stable is empty. She is crest-fallen but determined, she keeps looking. In fact, she looks for the child for the rest of her life joining all the wanderers who have ever lived.
As she journeys on, day in day out, for the rest of her life she finds children, finds them everywhere. She finds many a manger. She finds many a cradle. She finds many a mother nursing her baby. She leaves gifts at each place hoping that it is the Christ-child. She is now very old and near death. As she lies dying the Christ-child appears to her wearing the face of every child she has ever touched and offered a gift to. She dies happily knowing that, in spite of her first hesitancy, she did indeed find the child – not in the manger where she expected Him but in the poor and needy where she never expected Him. The message of Christmas is that love is the key.
The Christmas message and the Christmas celebration is God’s great zeal for us, the commitment not to leave us abandoned, not to leave us in the darkness of political, social or personal tyrannies. The message of Christmas is summed up in that communication the angel made to Mary at the Annunciation when he made a play on words he said, “You shall call His name Emmanuel – which means ‘God with us’”. What you have then in Christmas is a terrible desire on God’s part to ‘be with us’. To be a part of the human condition, our losses, our recessions, our disappointed and fractured relationships, the debts we have had in the past year, the difficulties, the addictions, the alcohol, the drugs, things that turn us upside down a great deal. In all of our entire human condition the Christmas message is that God doesn’t want to let us alone – He wants to reach out and be with us. Christmas tells us of God’s passion for us, God is reaching out to us with our tattered lives, our tattered hurts, our tattered relationships and our tattered sins – he is reaching out to us with open arms breaking into our lives. He makes no distinctions, He embraces the least likely – Christmas is not sentimentality, it is not soft, it is God’s fulfilled desire to be with us and that is why we celebrate.
If God is not with us and if God has not embraced our tattered lives we are missing the whole point of Christmas – there is no hope and there is no light only darkness and despair; our lives will be empty.
If we celebrate Christmas because of love then we have caught the message of Christmas and the meaning of Christmas; Emmanuel, the passionate God has had His way and has hugged us fiercely.
A very happy Christmas to you all.
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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