Posted on November 27, 2015
The Myer window in Melbourne, colourful Christmas cards, crib scenes on mantels or billboards and school concerts are precious expressions and pictures of the special Christmas season. Our Iconic pictures of Christmas arise from many places and are expressed through a wide variety of forms, mixed with stars, tinsel, reindeer, Father Christmas, snow on windows and garden lights. We may also have readily come to accept the images of a bush Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere. The characters in the Christmas story are the same: the caring Mary, the patient Joseph, the rough Shepherds, the three Magi, ourselves and those we love.
Each year, far from our Christmas, hundreds of thousands of people travel to the ancient country of Israel to visit her many wonderful and mysterious holy sites. Amongst these is a lovely church in the Arab town of Bethlehem. Beneath this comparatively new church is a large crypt said to be the birthplace of Jesus. Local tradition, which encourages tourism, suggests that the place where the birth of Jesus took place was actually a cave, cut out of the side of a hill rather than a stable. Within this Bethlehem crypt there has been created an iconic picture of the first Christmas. This Christmas for which we carefully prepare and that we celebrate in 2015.
I look forward to the carols, the tree and the gathering to make merry at Christmas. From the cupboard below our house, the decorations that have been part of our family life, will once again see the light of day and brighten our lives. There are memories of other times past, loved people and moments that make this festive season a precious time of life. There is also the excitement of giving and receiving gifts. These are expressions of our love for each other and the desire to joyfully give and receive. Above all I treasure the iconic gathering of family and friends around the Christmas table in the telling of stories and events.
These mixed Christmas images are the icons of life into which we are invited to look and to share our gift of love with God’s world. Here we can re-discover the reality of pain and joy in the birth of the Christ Child, the gift of God’s love to the World. In the bustle and the festivities of the Christmas season we may even venture to pause and look again at the manger scene, to be touched by the mystery of it for us. You may even venture to visit your church or that of others where the Christian family will gather around candles at the icon of Jesus or the Holy Table to share the community life which is found in Christ as child and Saviour. Here the stories of his family are retold with the struggles of Mary and Joseph and their joy in the birth of their child. The angels and shepherds will once again visit the stable and the wise men will bring their gifts to celebrate the Christ Child. Jesus will be present as God incarnate, made Human, and invite a response to him in weakness and strength.
Your picture of Christmas may most likely incorporate some of these family scenes and the gathering of loved ones around the Christmas tree to share gifts and the offering of a special Christmas meal at table, on a beach or in a park. This year the joy of Christmas may also be tinged with some sadness with the absence of a loved one through distance, separation or loss. For many Christmas will only be a fleeting glimpse of the Holy Family and what might have been, coupled with loneliness and the loss of hope. Their pictures of Christmas will be seen through a window but with little chance of touching and sharing in the festivities.
As staff and students conclude the school year we look forward to some rest and relaxation. As we rapidly move towards the end of this year with the many celebrations that mark the conclusion and transition of our community may we journey together in faith and love. May we seek to offer light in darkness. May we find some time and space to reflectively prepare for the Christmas festivities, together with, the changes that lie ahead for our School Community. As we gather together this Christmas, in homes, distant places, on beaches or elsewhere may we know the true joy to be found in the Christ Child.
As you share in the iconic pictures of Christmas this year my prayers will be with you as we go our separate ways. As we journey once more to the manger we are invited with gracious humility to gather and pay homage to The Christ. May we share the fragile nature of this world and excite in the making and telling of our own Christmas story. As you become the iconic picture of Christmas may you continue to live as a precious part of God’s wonderful creation, knowing that you are truly loved by God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Grace, love, joy and peace to you all