December has been a busy and rewarding month at South Street with many special events and opportunities to welcome friends and neighbours to church. The last two Sunday mornings have seen us running out of service sheets as two wonderful Nativity Plays have been performed by the GB and Junior Church.
Sunday evening saw our Carols by Candlelight - no problems this year, unlike last, with snow or ice. The church looked beautiful and the singing was great. Towards the end I mentioned that in January our book group will be discussing a novel with the intriguing title: When God was a Rabbit. Here’s a line from the middle of the book:
Do you believe in God, Arthur? I said, eating the last piece of sponge.
Do I believe in an old man in the clouds with a white beard judging us mortals with a moral code from one to ten? Good Lord no, my sweet Elly, I do not! I would have been cast out from this life years ago with my tatty history. Do I believe in a mystery; the unexplained phenomenon that is life itself? The greater something that illuminates inconsequence in our lives; that give us something to strive for as well as the humility to brush ourselves down and start all over again? Then yes, I do. It is the source of art, of beauty, of love, and proffers the ultimate goodness to mankind. That to me is God. That to me is life. That is what I believe in.
The more I think about it the more I want to say that few Christians I've ever known actually believe in an old man sitting on a cloud – we do however believe God showed himself in the face of Jesus Christ and that sounds to me remarkably like the beautiful mystery Arthur was talking about in that fascinating passage..
Last Thursday at Morning Prayers downstairs in the Chapel Lounge our leader that session talked of all the good things happening at this time of year. The sharing of love, giving of presents, family reunions, acts of kindness to neighbours, the sound of laughter and the empathetic compassion of those united in grief – we sometimes call it, she reminded us: The Spirit of Christmas. We could have left it there and that would have been good – but she challenged us with this thought and this was even better: that what we call the Spirit of Christmas is actually The Spirit of Christ. Christ the star maker, the life giver, the pain bearer. A Spirit not for one season but for every season.
Bethlehem beckons and it's the Spirit of Christ that makes our coming celebration so very special.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!