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.