It’s amazing to think that only 9 months ago I was in the church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem and that since then the world has become so different with our freedoms of today radically restricted.
Entering the church of the Holy Nativity if you have been there you will remember that the door has been reduced in size and made about 4ft high, so that all who enter have to bow so that nobody comes to the place of the birth of Jesus confidently upright – all who enter, priest, princes, people or pope, we all enter deferentially and in homage, heads bowed to the King of kings.
That is everyone apart from the children of whom Jesus says, do not hinder their path to me.
For this is the feast of the child, yes the child of Bethlehem, but also the children around us and the memories we have of our own childhoods. This is where we have had in our own pasts memories forged – excitement, indulgence, expectation and some years, depending on how many pairs of socks I received – disappointment.
We hype up the season to be jolly to satisfy in us perhaps the mismatch between fantasy and reality between the ideal celebration and the truth that grandpa is always going to fall asleep before Christmas Pudding and however much we want to be with family, before too long it becomes tiring and fractious.
But there are memories which we too ponder in our hearts and which encourage us and lead us on year by year memories and truths forged in our childhood.
Our Gospel reading reminds us that Mary ponders in her heart the stories of the Shepherds, the message of the angels, the words spoken about her new son.
However, the greatest pondering has to have been in the heart of God – that God contemplated within himself humanity, its existence, its life and its future – that small door into the Church of the Holy Nativity is equal to the small window God passes through into the world to be God with us.
God humbles himself on this Christmas Day and bows before creation as a vulnerable and dependent child so that we might be reminded of love, and in time to come, the revelation of God’s love in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
No grand entrance into the world, no status hogging moment. Just a birth, a child, a mother, and stepfather. No great festivity, just a few shepherds oh and the host of heaven!
Today as Christian people we kneel adoringly before the one we know to be God. We kneel not because he commands, but having come to our world, we now come into his orbit of life and kneel before him so that we can look into the wonder and hope that this new life was foretold to brings to our world. Sisters and brothers in Christ, let us in these moments quietly kneeling before the image of the God Child give thanks for the offering of God to us in Jesus, and let us ponder in our hearts the love of God, the memories we hold of the past and the our hopes for the future but in this present moment be thankful.