My three Christmas Masses
Three Masses for me this Christmas, and, though my role was diferent in each, I loved them all.
The first was at Midnight, when I had the privilege of sitting in Choir and doing nothing but preach. Our beloved Honorary Assistant Priest, Fr Al Holland, celebrated, carrying the Bambino round the church in procession and laying him in the Crib. Every candle in the church was lit; the altar was ablaze with poinsettias, red and white; the Choir sang the haunting Mass setting by George Malcolm and Rutter’s Motet: “What sweeter music can we bring, Than a carol for to sing The birth of this our heavenly King?” I preached on the shepherd’ symbolic transformation from rude country workers to symbolic visitors to the Shepherd of Israel. “The Lord is my Shepherd”; so “Do not be afraid”. You think you are as powerless as a baby, or a man nailed to a cross, or a bit of bread? Think again – identification with these vehicles of God’s love is when you will feel the real power that banishes fear.
My second Mass was the lovely quiet Mass of the Dawn at 8 a.m. with just a dozen parishioners who love this simple start to Christmas Day, rather than the big colorful High Masses which precede and follow it. I celebrated this Mass at the Lady Chapel altar, just beyond the beautiful Christmas Crib, and commemorated, even in the midst of Christmas joy, the holy Martyr St Anastasia, and prayed for the children of Connecticut whose lives were cut short last week, and for their families.
Then, in the last Mass of the Day, I was Deacon, and as such had the privilege of singing a Gospel which on almost every other day of the year I say at the end of Mass, the beginning of St John’s Gospel. No Shepherds here, no Wise Men, no Crib, no Bethlehem. John’s Good News begins much further back: “In the beginning was the Word”. But after a dozen verses saying that that Word of God made the universe, created all life and light, John zooms down from these heavenly heights and gives the heart of the Christian Gospel “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”. No wonder the response to the last Gospel of the Mass is “Thanks be to God”.
My three different roles in the Masses of Christmas. What a privilege and what a joy!
Happy Christmas to all who read this blog.