I recently came across a character called Angelus Silesius, who was a 17th century German mystic. In fact he was rather more than that: he was also a Catholic priest, poet and physician. He was born a Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism in 1653. He’s evidently mostly remembered these days for his religious poetry, including these rather wonderful lines:
Christ could be born
a thousand times in Galilee –
but all in vain
until he is born in me.
Some poetic licence is needed here, since Jesus was born in Bethlehem rather than Galilee! But nevertheless, it reminds me that at Christmas we’re doing two things. On the one hand we’re celebrating a historical event – the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; while at the same time we are celebrating other births now at this present time, as more people come to faith, understand what God has done in Jesus, and receive the life of Jesus for themselves, either for the first time, or perhaps in a new and deeper way. The line we sing in “O little town of Bethlehem” picks up this theme:
O holy child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in;
be born in us today.
I very much hope that Advent and Christmas will be spiritually significant for you again this year, as you bask in the wonder of the incarnation….. God becoming human, and inviting us to let him be born in us today. Let’s reflect again on the amazing message of love and peace which Jesus came to bring to all the world.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas.