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.”

Fr Kevin

The Clergy and People of St James’ wish everyone

a very Joyful, Peaceful and Happy Christmas.

St. John the Baptist’s instruction “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”, memorably and repetitively set to music as the opening song of the 1970s musical Godspell (reference to which immediately dates the writer of these Notes), was addressed to his hearers 2000 years ago, but speaks as powerfully to Christians and to all of good will today, in this season of Advent.

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”

Christians are invited, indeed urged, to live by and work for the values of God’s kingdom, as we pray each day, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” These values are to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves, to be signs of God’s passion for justice for the poor and oppressed, to be agents of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation in this so broken and divided world, to care for the gift of creation entrusted to us. We are called to model these values together as the Church of God, globally, nationally and in our neighbourhood, and also in our individual lives as we seek by grace to become more Christ-like.

Here at St. James’ the Street Outreach Initiative, our association with Salal & Cedar and the MetroVancouver Alliance, the Coming Home Society and the Outreach Committee are all expressions of these kingdom values, alongside our daily offering of worship and prayer. Advent is an opportunity too for each of us to hold up the mirror of God’s Spirit to ourselves, reflecting on how in our own lives we express these values, on how you, how I, may be more grace-filled, more Christ-like signs of the kingdom.

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”

Fr. Kevin