O come, all ye faithful
It’s the last verse of this carol that does it for me every time, the one we only sing on Christmas Day. ‘Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning’. And shivers run down my spine and tears prick my eyes – it’s Christmas! The waiting and preparation are over. The star is shining over the stable, the angels are singing, the shepherds are running towards Bethlehem, and Mary is looking in wonder into the unfathomable eyes of her new baby.
The familiar words of this carol pick up on this story, and add more. The second verse weaves together some of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith. This baby is true God from true God, light from light. He is God’s son, alongside God from before the beginning, sharing his very being with God. Charles Wesley reflected on this in another Christmas hymn, writing of ‘our God, contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’. We do not understand what it means to say that this baby is Emmanuel, God with us. How can God become a helpless, wordless, tiny human being?
Yet this is what we celebrate at Christmas. In the midst of the razzmatazz and the spending spree, there is the still centre, where God is with us, the fullness of divinity wrapped up in humanity. And this is our hope – for he became what we are, so that we might become what he is.
A very happy Christmas to you all!
Little baby God, born as one of us,
we come to adore you.
With shepherds and wise men,
with Mary and Joseph,
with the angels of heaven,
we sing of your glory and love for us.
help us to glimpse your light, shining in our darkness.
And as Christmas fades into our memories,
help us to hold on to the evergreen hope which you bring us,
and share the good news that
you are Emmanuel for every day of the year. Amen