Good afternoon everyone, how amazing our the choir! I don’t know about you, but there is something about hearing all the Christmas songs and carols actually performed that make me just feel Christmassy. And what joy it is to have these carols here in church as we continue to prepare to celebrate Christmas day. I’m feeling dead Christmassy and I hope you are too.
I always remember as a young boy in the, and I hope this doesn’t make people feel too old, in the early 1990s watching on VHS the BBC version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. To this day seeing it makes me remember Christmases of my childhood! Has anyone seen it or remember it? It was made in that time in the late 80s were special effects for the BBC really involved what could be cobbled together out of an arts and crafts cupboard, you’ll remember what I mean if you watched say Dr Who during the 80s. For those of you who haven’t seen the series or read the books, the tales of Narnia see children journey to a magic land called Narnia where the animals speak, there are fauns and dryads and witches and the children are called on by the Great Lion Aslan to save the day. In the BBC TV series we were treated to a giant animatronic lion puppet and people ‘dressed’ as talking animals in that cheap and cheerful BBC way of years gone by. For me as a child though, I was mesmerised by the adventures of these children saving the day with the help of Aslan.
One part that remained with me all these year in the Lion, witch and the wardrobe was the horrific curse that the evil White Witch had laid on the lands of Narnia. I remember hearing the badgers saying the children, I think in a cockney accent ‘The white witch has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she who makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas, think of that!’ an awful curse.
In our world over the last few years it has felt like it is always winter at the minute. Between pandemics, cost of living crisis, wars, the rises of foodbanks, poverty, failing NHS and so much more it seems like we too are in a winter that never ends. Even within our own community here, the need of so many is so acute, with loneliness, desperation, financial difficulties and hardship just everywhere. Indeed, the winter feels hard and difficult, it feels like there is only winter and never Christmas as the minute.
But for those of you who have seen or read the rest of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe you know that is not the end of the story. You see, as the witches power is broken, the children are visited by Father Christmas, Christmas arrives and spring begins. New life is victorious over the powers of winter.
At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who was born into a stable, and that stable contained something that was bigger than our whole world, in that stable came the light of the world. At His birth, Jesus was surrounded by the lowliest of people, called by angels, the shepherds. Lying in the manger, a dirty animal trough, came the One through whom all true Christmas Spirit has its source. It is only that source that can provide the antidote to the perpetual winter our world experiences, the antidote to all the evil of the world. You won’t find the Christmas Spirit in John Lewis Adverts, or illuminations or in spending money. The light of Christmas was born in a stable 2000 years ago. That light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. By singing our Christmas songs, by celebrating Christmas, by bringing some of that light into our world we fight against the evils of this world. By following the one who taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves, to forgive our enemy, to feed the stranger, cloth the naked, rescue the prisoner we help end the darkness of our world. By celebrating the one who came to end all darkness, by loving despite the cost, we see the winter evil of our world thaw just a little bit.
So this Christmas party hard. This Christmas give to all around you. This Christmas love abundantly. Because when we do, that true Christmas Spirit enters in and the world becomes a less dark place.
My greatest joy in being a vicar is my duty to bless everyone in the name of Christ I meet so I want to pray a special Christmas blessing for you all. Before I do, may I wish you a wonderful Christmas time and a joyous new year. Let’s pray:
May the joy of the angels,
the eagerness of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men,
the obedience of Joseph and Mary,
and the peace of the Christ-child
be yours this Christmas;
and the blessing of God Almighty
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you this Christmas and always