I won’t claim to be able to explain that beautiful, mystical reading we hear from the gospel of John at Midnight Mass except to say that if we listen closely to the lyrical tones of that haunting poetry attempting to describe one of the most perplexing moments of this earth’s history we might just catch a glimpse of the shadows in the stars. Those moments of pure beauty when all is reconciled and made well again. Yes they are rare, but at Christmas, the impossible comes to birth. It is the most wonderful time of the year. A little snow falling and you could almost imagine anything being possible. With good cheer good will and a little Christmas magic, you could perhaps forget the woes of the world outside of our doors for a day. With softened lighting, images and decorations in red green and gold offering that romantic, perhaps nostalgic feeling when families are reunited and honest conversations are had around the Christmas tree. When there is a moment of change and redemption a recognition of past mistakes and pledging to try better in the future, we might just return to the whole that we once were. The essence of Christmas is the possibility of healing. Not just of an individual, whilst I’ll not bet on the healing of our nation, let alone the world over the turkey and stuffing this year perhaps I should have more faith in those shadows in the stars and make my wish for bigger things. A little reconciliation and forgiveness goes a long way and we can identify with those moments of healing and change, we all need a bit of it happening to us as well. Perhaps it’s possible too that for a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people we always hoped we would be. And if we’re looking for a symbol of this heavenly blessing then let it be the crib here laid with cloths writ with hopes and dreams for this earth expectant of the child to come, the one of whom the stars foretold, the one on whom our salvation rests. Or let it be perhaps these transparent gift boxes suspended here containing gifts given not of gold or frankincense or myrrh, but of life. Or perhaps let it simply be the notion that there once was a whole and perfect world and that each of the moments we spend in healing or reconciliation brings us that little bit closer to that which we once were. As we ponder on these things this most wonderful night we ought to prepare for moments of unexpected beauty not because there is magic in the stars, but because we believe we can bring them about. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
With acknowledgements to James Agee’s Poem ‘Sure on this shining night’ set to music by Morten Lauridsen. And to Mark Kermode’s ‘Secrets of Christmas Cinema’. And to ‘Cloth for the Cradle’ from the Iona Community book store.