A PAGE OF JOY


“The dark night wakes, the Glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more”
Lines from Bishop Phillip Brooks carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
    Indeed, Christmas - Christ’s Mass - does come once more, and as every year it will be different – and yet it will be the same.
   Our Christmases change – for instance - my mother’s childhood Christmas Day consisted of three services to be attended at the Salvation Army Citadel and her Bandsman father bringing back the rest of the band for mince pies, made by my grandmother, after the outdoor service of witness and praise. 
    I remember the thrill of waking on a freezing Christmas morning, searching on the end of my bed in the dark for the new doll that I longed for Father Christmas to bring – and quietly padding across the landing to wake my brother, and then sitting on his bed to show him “Audrey” and to watch him open his gifts. 
Then we both went into our parent’s room to tell them “Father Christmas been!”
My father always cooked our Christmas dinner, a large chicken reared and provided by my uncle. The chicken we take for granted now was a treat all those years ago! 
    Then there was the year that our children woke up – all excited - at two in the morning, just five minutes after my Beloved and I collapsed into bed. 
We’d been to Midnight Mass, leaving my mother baby-sitting, then needing to take her to her own home, before fulfilling our Santa duties, expecting to have a few hours sleep before the anticipated joys of a manic Christmas morning, followed by taking the children to the Parish Mass at 10a.m. 
But, oh no - - - no sleep at all that night!
    Now I find my Christmas card list two or three names shorter each year, and some dearly loved faces are no longer at the Festive table.
Yes –new names are added, new faces appear, and our lovely Grandchildren add to our delight.
    But over the changes each year brings, the constancy of God’s love stays the same, shown to us in Christ’s birth remembered and retold over the years.
    The fact that the name Bethlehem means House of Bread is surely no coincidence, God doesn’t work by relying on coincidence.
    We meet Jesus in Bethlehem every time we “Do this in remembrance of me”
    We give him our gifts every time we give a gift to another whether it is a scarf, a pair of socks or the gift of our love, of our time, our companionship.
    So - “All things change, save only the love of God which endures forever.”
And I can find no better words to tell of this miraculous and unchanging love than those of the poet John Betjeman in his poem “Christmas”
“No love that in family dwells,
No caroling in frosty air, nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine”
 Joy Yorke