After the busyness of the last few weeks, and the last minute rush to prepare for Christmas, the day itself is precious. Wherever we are, with family, in company or just by ourselves, Christmas day offers a moment to stop and reflect. For a significant number that reflection includes going to Church to join others in thanking God for the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ.
There is a special welcome in all the churches across the Archdiocese of Birmingham at this time of year, not only for the regular attender but for anyone seeking a share in the gift of Christmas peace. That peace can help us to see our individual lives as part of the bigger picture. It can also help us rediscover the real values in life that bring us happiness.
Unlike the commercial world the Church is only just beginning the Christmas season on 25th December and it continues until Twelfth Night on 6th January. During these twelve days of Christmastide you might find time to visit a local church. Perhaps you will say a prayer in thanksgiving, or ask for strength for the coming year or remember those who are in particular need this Christmas.
There is something about Christmas that moves us to be kinder and more considerate towards one another. We are influenced by the meaning of Christmas itself. In the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem God’s loving-kindness comes to us like the daylight at the beginning of each day.
There is nothing sentimental about this kindness. It doesn’t depend on warm feelings before it happens. It is the simple desire to achieve something good for other people, whoever they are, however we may feel like judging them at other times of year. Christmas helps us to be kind in our dealings with other people irrespective of whether we feel they deserve it or not.
The spirit of this Christmas season can help us to set aside any differences or divisions that may have burdened us over the year. As we reach Christmas Day let’s pray for the grace to forgive any unkindness that may have hurt us. Let’s try to show in our own lives the loving-kindness of the heart of our God, who visits us like the dawn from on high.
I wish you and your families the blessings of unity and peace this Christmas – gifts that bring happiness and that flow from the heart of our God.
Archbishop Bernard Longley serves the Diocese of Birmingham, England.