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Rector writes In both Catholic and Reformed traditions, the concentration on Jesus’ nativity as the Christmas event has meant that we have lost a more profound and deeper view. Translated to our secular culture, the nativity is remembered simply as an archetypal human birth without its deeper significance as vital for our salvation. I would go further and suggest that for the secular world the highly sentimentalised “nativity scene” has quite obscured the Christian meaning of the event. I quite appreciate that I am swimming against a very strong tide and will, no doubt, get caught up in the baubles of Christmas just as much as the next person. However, this should not deflect me from pointing out that such a de-Christianised view has given way to the archetypal image of jolly roly-poly old Santa Claus (the image being an invention of the Coca-Cola marketing department) and the very politically correct ‘Season’s Greetings’ which has crept across the Atlantic. Peace and goodwill will be warbled by the Christmas crooners but neither the angels who first proclaimed it nor the earth-shattering event that inspired their message will be remembered. Christmas still remains, I am glad to say, a festival for friends and families to renew their bonds of love and affection but it is hard to see how this will survive without the religious core that gave it meaning. It is all the more important for us to hold on to the fact that the celebration of Advent and the festivals of Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ are both essential for understanding a proper celebration of his birth. Christmas is not just about the human birth of Jesus. The birth is the revelation of God himself made manifest in human time and place - the eternal Word made flesh. The meaning of Christmas is expressed in the ‘waiting time’ of Advent. At its deepest level, Christmas is not in fact centred on the birth of a child but on the coming of an adult Christ. The best of Christmas carols and hymns offer this vision of redemption as implicit in the birth of Jesus. To give but one example, you are very familiar with Hark, the herald angels sing... As originally framed, it had four verses but the fourth was dropped. The fourth verse has now been restored to many hymnals including our ‘green’ hymnal (although rather interestingly the verse is starred!) and says ….now display thy saving power/ruined nature now restore/now in mystic union join/Thine to ours, and ours to thine. Do you see? The restoration of creation, the new birth of humanity, the making divine what is human, are all themes implicit in the celebration of Christmas. It is indeed right and proper that we should celebrate the coming season with everything at our disposal, both spiritual and temporal. Let us do so without losing sight of its true significance and value. A very merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. The Rector