Celebrate the Joy of Christmas
As the academic year at Wesley comes to a close and we begin to look ahead, all around us there are symbols of the Christmas season. In shops large and small, dangling from light posts and on these clear summer nights, stars feature prominently amongst such symbols celebrating the coming of life and light to the world. Tradition says that a star announced Jesus’ birth, but in ancient times stars were used to announce a number of historic births in the religious traditions of the Middle East.
It is not so much that we contemplate a tradition which says a star wandered across the sky so slowly wise men could keep up with it and find the birthplace of a new king. These things are not what Christmas stories are about.
The Gospel writers knew they were not writing history, but rather creating an interpretive portrait drawn from the traditions of the past. The wise men and their gifts of gold and frankincense, and kings coming to the brightness of God’s rising are all found in the prophecy of Isaiah (Ch.60: 1-6). The star in the East is drawn from The Book of Numbers (Ch.24: 17), the manger is from Isaiah (Ch.1: 2-3) and the swaddling clothes can be found in the Apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon (Ch.7: 4-5).
What the Gospel writers sought to do, was announce something that would change the world. It would not only impact their lives, but the lives of all people still to come, wherever and whoever they might be. That is the good news of Christmas – light was coming into the world that would never again allow darkness and foreboding to triumph.
However, it is sometimes difficult to embrace such good news when we observe oppressive political regimes (or practices within our own society) that corrupt, rather than enhance, the good.
There are a variety of promises of a better tomorrow made in all religious writings, the Bible included. But how do we contemplate the ordering of holy days, special seasons and anniversary years, when such times of hope are not reflected in our own lives?
However, whether we are ready or not, time does not stand still and we are now being called on separate journeys into the unknown. Some will embark on new horizons of study, or career direction. Most will remain within these walls of learning, to grow a deeper understanding of the nature of our community together. Wherever we go, let it be with thankfulness, honoured to have been part of this great place, even though we are not entirely sure what may be next.
Such uncertainty is the nature of life – but it is also the stuff of promise. We are offered the gift of life and the gift of light. What we choose to do with these precious gifts lies solely with each one of us.
My hope is that you might find these gifts to be real and claim them for yourselves, in order that all might be able to joyfully share these gifts of life and light with those with whom you live and love.
Have a blessed Christmas, followed by a deep and abiding expectant anticipation for the year to come.
Rev Nalin Perera
Wesley College Chaplain