It is Christmas time once again and the bells across christendom ring out their peals of alleluia while the various choirs, church musicians and congregations sing praise to God as we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, also called Christmas Day.
We hear the birth narratives of St. Luke’s Gospel that are ever familiar and yet paradoxically ever new. The author of the gospel according to St. Luke tells of the message of the angels to humble shepherds that there is born in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.
We must always remember that events in sacred scripture are best interpreted as symbolic engagements between God and his creation. The bible is not simply a history Book; but rather a document that describes the way in which God almighty interacts with his human creation day by day.
The events in scripture are not simply the highlight; but theologically it is the implication of those events that bring us face to face with the true and living God.
At Christmas we do more than remember stories of long ago of the Blessed virgin Mary. her husband Joesph and the babe in the manger.
Professor Patrick Regan in his book Advent to Pentecost tells us that
“Christmas, then, is not a mere mental recall of the birth of Jesus in past history but the annual ecclesial making present in word and sacrament of the always-actual salvation subsisting in his person and thereby appropriating it.”
The question for us at this time is what is the implication of the birth in the manger or rather what is the implication of the Word made flesh of whom we read in the gospel according to St. John chapter 1:1-14.
The incarnation implies that God has come among us to dwell; not simply for the brief period of Jesus’ earthly life; but rather for ever and ever.
When we examine the birth narratives we realise the calling into one of those assembled in Bethlehem that night by the birth of the babe in the manger. The inn keeper, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the Shepherds, and perhaps other onlookers curious as to what was taking place.
They are all called to one place and called to be one with the Christ Child. Our Saviour calls us to oneness and it is this that the Barbados Christian Council seeks to fulfill in its mandate.
At Christmas time all Christians worship in there various spaces the incarnate God who calls us into dialogue with each other.
We express our love for Christ in the various denominations of Christianity; this however does not mean that we do not sit and reason together. We continue to call all christian bodies to the manger where together we may worship Mary’s boy-child.
It is the hope of the Barbados Christian Council that this oneness be manifested in our families. If we are to prevent the social ills that rear their respective heads every now and again, we will find that the family is the principal source for cohesion.
Christ was born into a human family. The executive of the Barbados Christian Council calls on all of those who have the responsibility for family to gather the young ones not only to eat and drink; but in addition to sit and talk.
Let us sit and talk about family. Talk about the elders and those who have made our respective families great and about the values that have held the family together even in the most difficult times.
In eating and drinking let us to so in moderation heeding the reminders from medical professionals and the Commission on Chronic Non-communicable Disease regarding our health though uncontrolled eating habits.
Christmas is a happy and joyful occasion. We are aware that it may be a little sad as we remember those who are not with us this year; but rejoice in another place and on another shore; but whose hope had always been in Christ.
On behalf of the executive of the Barbados Christian Council let me express every good wish to all Heads of Churches and all of those within their care and responsibility.
Let me also wish one and all a joyful and peaceful Christmas and God’s richest blessing in the coming year.
(The Rev’d Canon Noel A. Burke – Chairman)