‘Tomorrow, the sins of the world will be washed away.’ So says the responsory we sing at Lauds. It is as though the whole earth were holding its breath at the nearness of salvation. The birth we celebrate tonight took place two thousand years ago in a troubled country under less than ideal circumstances. I daresay the stable was dirty and smelly and Joseph terrified at the thought of playing midwife to Mary, while she was wishing her mother could be with her as she underwent this new and painful experience of giving birth. But God takes delight in working through imperfect situations, using imperfect circumstances and people we might think wholly unsuitable. The strange thing is, his purposes are always achieved, perfectly. Even sin is no obstacle to him, and that is part of the message of Christmas — an encouraging one for those of us who may not be feeling at our best or have a vague sense that we haven’t made as much of Advent as we might. God in Christ makes all things right.
I had hoped to write about the Christmas Proclamation or Martyrology but think this link will provide you with a much better account than I can. The only difference is that the living tradition of the community is less concerned with musical excellence (which we can’t achieve anyway) than with the prayer that it expresses. And for Bro Duncan PBGV fans, there’s this.