For many of us this is our favourite time of the year and this night our favourite church service of the year. To gather in the middle of the night and sing carols and then to sit quietly by candlelight and remember the Christ child coming into the world on maybe such a night. It is a holy night on which to remember the most holy of nights.
As the famous carol puts it “silent night, holy night, all is calm all is quiet. ‘round yon virgin mother and child ...” There is something so universal, so core to our humanity, in that image of mother and child that we can all respond, that our differences for a moment fall away and we see in that mother and child our selves, all we hold hear, and every human. The love and hope of this image we can keep coming back to year after year and drinking deep of the reassurance and promise.
As we draw near to the scene of birth we might be filled with the miracle of every birth - of beginnings and of beginning again. Whilst utterly common there is something sacred about all births. For all our knowledge there is still the miracle of birth, of new life coming from old, a new being who is the same and utterly different to all others. As we draw near to the scene of birth we might be reminded that all who were born of woman are precious and of infinite value. At moments like these divisions of race and culture and religion mean little – we are all here because of this reoccurring miracle.
As we draw near to the scene of birth we might come to know that we too were and are this precious. That our existence is a miracle not to be wasted. That just as we are - like every other person and creature who has or does live - we are unique and have our part to play.
As we draw near to the scene of birth we might be struck by the wonder that the divine should have come to us, become one of us, in this most beautiful and humble of ways. That the creator of all chose not power and might but vulnerability and human flesh.
That the creator of all chose not to seek awe and fear but tenderness and love. That the creator of all chose not to be surrounded by armies but ordinary folk. Most truly he became one of us, fully human and filled with the grace of the divine.
And because we come to this image not once but many times we might be encouraged by the cycles of renewal and rebirth. While we are only born once we can be reborn, renewed many times. At Christmas we are reminded that it is not too late for us, that even yet we can grow tender and hopeful, loving and joyful, that peace might yet come to our weary hearts and disturbed homes and ravaged world.
So as we come to the image of mother and child let us know again in our hearts and our bones that we are loved and invited into a life where all are precious and where we all belong.
Even so, come Lord Jesus Christ, come and be born in our hearts and homes and let peace flourish in our world.