This year, the Dean's Christmas reminds us of the true gift of Christmas, the Christ-child.
A promise made and kept for life - that was your gift -
Because of which, here is a gift in return.
These are words from Simon Armitage’s, the Poet Laureate’s, poem to mark the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. At Christmas we always tend to remember those who were with us last year, but who are no longer with us, the people who have died who would have shared our joy, the people whose passing tinges the joy of the season with a hint of sadness. Inevitably this year we will all think of Queen Elizabeth and how she has featured in so many of our own Christmas day rituals, gathering around the television with the ones we love to hear ‘The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast’. This year we look forward to what King Charles will say, and our hearts go out to him and the other members of the Royal Family, for whom this Christmas will be equally poignant.
But as the Poet Laureate suggests, in this season of gifts we remember that she gave us a gift and for me that was always about being brought back to what is at the heart of the celebrations. The true gift of Christmas is the gift of the Christ-child, the one born in the stable, laid in the manager, the one that shepherds and wise men adore, the one for whom flights of angels sing, the one to whom all creation bows. That is gift – and the ‘gift in return’ is being able to share that gift with those around us.
Whether we see in the child lying in the straw love or peace or promise, whether we see there true God or true man, we know that the gifts on offer are life changing and world changing for all of us, and this Christmas, as much as any, we need everything that God so freely offers.
As you receive the gift of Jesus, share it too, and know that love, that peace, that promise, that God in man offers to you.
The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark