Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Advent and Christmas 1999

 

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ... " (John 1:14)

"And she brought forth her first-born son ... and laid him in a manager ..." (Luke 2:7)

 

One of my favourite moments of the church year is the proclamation of John's Gospel in the Christmas midnight Eucharist. The first verse solemnly announces "In the beginning was the Word ...." the rhythmic verses move to capture all that we celebrate in the Birth Day of Christ;" the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; ... " This reading was assigned to the celebration of the nativity in ancient times, before the development of the season of advent, when the nativity marked the beginning of the Christian year. The Prayer Book tradition, and the (new) Revised Common Lectionary each assign it a significant place in the Christmas cycle of readings. It will be the gospel reading at the 11:30 p.m. midnight Eucharist in our parish.

 

For many worshippers, the story of the birth of Jesus, according to St. Luke, captures in several verses the full meaning of the nativity of the Lord. The mother and child, the shepherds and angels are the wonder of Luke's account. They populate our hearts at the Christmas celebration. Provision is made for this reading to be used at a Christmas celebration. It will be the Gospel reading at the Children and Family Eucharist Service at 4:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, and again at 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day. Clearly Luke would have us understand that the Christmas story is the Christ story.

 

Each of these Gospel readings has a compelling pair of messages. The readings call us to worship. St. John bids us join in a hymn to the Word made flesh. St. Luke beckons us to place our earthly voices with those of the heavenly host --rejoicing in peace and divine favour. The readings, with equal force, call us to lives of mercy and compassion. John tells us that what God means for the world is conveyed in the flesh. Luke places the birth of the Christ child in the midst of poverty and oppression. We should know that for both John and Luke, God is worshipped and the world matters dearly. May our celebration of Christ's birth join our adoration and praise to a striving after justice and peace.

 

Archdeacon Rod Gillis