Saint James Anglican Church

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


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Advent 2011

 

"A young woman is expecting and she will give birth to her child." -Isaiah 7: 14

 

Ghosts may haunt Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol", but in the end it is tiny Tim who steals the old miser's rehabilitated heart. Charles Shultz fills "A Charlie Brown Christmas" exclusively with the voices of children as they search for the true meaning of the season. Children feature prominently in "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's Wonderful Life." Children populate many of the popular stories of the Christmas season. Christmas, of course, is all about a child. An ancient prophecy from Isaiah finds fulfillment in the birth of the Christ-child to the Virgin Mary.

 

The feast of the Nativity of the Lord is pregnant with manifold meaning. As a birth story the nativity explores hope, expectation, and joy as well as anxiety, fear, and danger. These themes resonate with the words of Archbishop Rowan Williams in his recent address for the day of prayer and action for children. "In children we recognize the preciousness and dignity of the human being as well as a vulnerability which calls for our care and protection." This insight from the Archbishop of Canterbury may be readily applied to the story of Jesus' birth. The Nativity is God's affirmation of human dignity. It is a demonstration of God's care and protection for the vulnerable.

 

Children are so representative of the fragility of the human condition. Children are among the hardest hit by famine, war, poverty, malnutrition, and social displacement. From child soldiers on foreign battlefields to the increasing number of hungry children at North American food banks, children struggle with many obstacles in the pursuit of a life of peace and fulfillment. The economic and environmental legacy being bequeathed to children is a gloomy one. Caring for and protecting the children of the world, providing them with the opportunity to experience a full and undiminished childhood, joining them in a sense of awe and wonder, and nurturing in them a sense of basic trust in life, these are essential both to the well being of each child and to the salvation of the human family.

 

Every birth story is a window on the story of the nativity of Jesus. The birth of every child calls us to place hope above despair, to care protectively for all that God offers us in each new arrival. As we celebrate this holy season may we grow in our resolve to love and care for the precious gift that is the children of the world. "A young woman is expecting and she will give birth to her child". This Divine promise is at heart of the nativity of Christ. The same Divine promise is at the heart of each human birth.

 

The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis Advent, 2011

 

Light Divine, in the birth of the Christ child we see your glory.

May we who share in this mystery grow daily in your love.

This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Adapted from the prayer over the gifts for Christmas I--Book of Alternative Services.)