Once again we will be rehearsing the Christmas Story, we shall be remembering a troubled land, remembering how occupying forces demanded a census for tax purposes. And once more there is conflict in Israel and Gaza. The 'Holy Land' once again seems to be less than Holy and more about political and military power struggles.
Somehow it begs the question, 'Does anything ever change?' And then, we remember the Christmas Story, of how God became human in Jesus - quietly, almost unnoticed by many, born as he was, in a stable bare. And with his birth the world changed. Without huge fanfare, unless you could hear the choirs of angels. without grand gesture but with the fragility and love of a new born child to a family, and with that intimacy of relationship we see so often on our Christmas Cards of the Holy family gathered there together.
Here is perhaps the greatest hint we have that things can change, even nations can change, but it starts, it begins with relationships being built and bonded in love. this should, of course, not surprise us, because we believe in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - a community, a tightly bonded family whose love for the world, whose love for us is so great it is beyond measure.
Sometimes, I get told off by my mum for not saying much when I visit. But then we do speak, and we realise that we were thinking the same thing and end up finishing each others sentences. sometimes we then find ourselves laughing because we realise that words are not always necessary. Yet Christmas is a time when words and gestures, and cards and gifts are so important, for they say in ways that words sometimes cannot, that our love, one for another, is great and strong and sometimes at its deepest in the silences that pass between us.
In amongst all the preparations we do for Christmas, at its heart there is a simplicity which we ignore at our period. May prayer is that in our churches, in our families, with our friends and neighbours, we shall make space for those holy silences to pass between us, and in them give thanks to God for the deep expression of his love towards us that came as a child, born in the night. This Christmas may Holy Communities be born as God's love is celebrated and shared.