Christmas Eve 2017

Here in the monastery we are still surrounded by the plainness of Advent. There are flowers waiting to go into the oratory, crib figures to be unpacked, cards to be arranged on window ledges — but not yet. There is a tree in the calefactory, but it stands bare and undecorated. This plainness, this deliberate expectancy, is, for us, an essential part of Christmas. When at last we begin to celebrate the Nativity, we do so not just for the Octave but for all twelve days, culminating in Epiphany (which regular readers will know I regard as the great feast of Christmas). The contrast, the sudden explosion of light and warmth into the darkness of midwinter, is a good analogy for the mystery of the Incarnation.

Today’s responsory at Lauds says, ‘Tomorrow the sins of the whole world will be washed away.’ We await a Saviour whose coming will change everything, including us. We may not be especially conscious of sin as we approach Christmas, but a moment’s reflection on all the sadness and division in the world should convince us of its reality. Christ comes to deal with sin, and He begins by dealing with sin in you and me. He is not ‘just’ the Saviour of the world; He is your Saviour and mine. Today, let’s try to find a moment or two to allow the wonder of that truth to sink in so that we can celebrate Christmas with gladness and rejoicing.


9 thoughts on “Christmas Eve 2017”

  1. I love the sense of expectancy on Christmas Eve. I love Christmas Day (although it’s my day for being Martha) but there is something so special about the day and night before when it feels to me as though the whole world is holding its breath, waiting.
    May I wish you ladies and Touri a very happy Christmas.

  2. May I wish you all all preaceful and happy Christmas, as I like you eagerly await the Christchild, and look forward to the celebration of his birth at our midnight Mass. God bless you all.

  3. Sister, your piece reminded me immediately of that marvellous poem by Thomas Ford (b.1580) which begins “Yet if His Majesty our Sovereign Lord”:

    I learnt this by heart at school in the days when learning by heart was still fashionable, and it has stayed with me ever since.

    Can we picture you bustling about at a few minutes before midnight, preparing a great welcome?

    Kind Christmas wishes to you all.

    • I love that poem, too! However, to disabuse you of any false ideas, we start our Christmas decorating , etc, in the afternoon so that we are more or less finished by Vespers, which is, of course, 1 Vespers of Christmas.

  4. The waiting is so important. I remember years ago when I was part of a flower arranging team in our church, Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday. This meant that morning Mass was for Advent 4, so no flowers could be put out, but the pedestals still had to be prepared the day before on Saturday. We were all mums trying to prepare everything at home, too, after all. Immediately after the Advent Mass therefore a harassed group of women dived into the sacristy, where these pedestals had been stowed, thus getting in the way of the PP, who was delighted, of course, and servers! Somehow it all got arranged in the church and joy could finally be unconfined.
    I wish you every blessing and joy this Christmas tide.
    With love.

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