It’s Christmas Day. Bev and I are spending Christmas with her mum in Holyhead – the furthest point in North Wales off the island of Anglesey.
Midnight communion at St Cybi’s church was a special way to start Christmas. It’s the church where we were married in December 1981 – 41 years ago.
In the sermon, the preacher – the Archdeacon of Anglesey, John Harvey started by asking ‘How far would you go to see Jesus ?’ He continued by telling us about a trip he made to see Jesus many years ago. He visited Burford Priory, which was then the home of the society of the Salutation of our Lady, a community of Anglican nuns.
And he described the statue in the Priory of Mary and the Christ Child – not with Mary cradling the baby Jesus, or with the child sitting on her knee, but with Mary holding Jesus out as if to say ‘Would you like to hold him ?’
As for the offer to hold the baby … I, like many others, would accept in a heartbeat, but others, for all sorts of reasons, might be reluctant to take the baby. Holding a baby is the closest we come to innocence, but for some, there is pain and the fear of coming too close to the perfection that we may never have known.
And in the end, to go back to the question at the beginning .. it’s not a question of how far we would go to see Jesus, it’s remembering that God, in Christ has come to meet us.
At Christmas, we are invited to consider that in Jesus, God becomes flesh for us. So whatever your feelings about holding a baby, whatever your pain or fear – this is the question put to us … As the gift of Jesus is offered to us this Christmas, will we receive him ?
Would you like to hold him ? He is that close.