It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old… “Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, from heaven”s all-gracious King”, goes the familiar 19th century Christmas Carol. This may create in our mind’s eye a sentimental Christmas card scene of stars and cherubs and harps and shepherds, but the writer, Edmund Sears, intends a sharper, more challenging impact: “Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long. Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong. And man at war with man hears not the love-song which they bring. O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.”
Bethlehem today, as our Primate Fred Hiltz references in his Christmas Message, is beset by tension and hostilities, as it was by the Roman occupation those two thousand years ago. As 2018 dawns, there are increasing economic and political tensions and rumblings across the world, and closer to home. Climate change and its denial endanger our beautiful planet, entrusted to us by the Creator.
As the tiny, vulnerable Christ-child was born into a messy and broken world all those years ago, so now He longs to be born again into this same world of 2018, broken and messy still, in and through us, his weak and fragmented people. Are our ears open to hear again the angels’ theme, are we ready to bring the light and peace of Christ to bear in our lives and in our relationships, in our small way to join with all of goodwill to herald and work for the coming of God’s kingdom of justice, righteousness and peace? “O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.”
“For lo! The days are hastening on, by prophet bards foretold, when with the ever-circling years, comes round the age of gold. When peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendours fling, and the whole world give back the song, which now the angels sing.”
The Clergy and People of St James’ wish everyone
a very Joyful, Peaceful and Happy Christmas.