Christmas Day - Choral Eucharist

  • Preacher

    The Dean - The Very Revd Andrew Nunn

  • Readings

    Isaiah 52.7-10; Hebrews 1.1-4; John 1.1-14

As if the Christmas story were not enough in itself there are a huge number of other stories that we can tell at Christmas

Sitting around a log fire last night, the tree lights on, people snuggling together and some one reading to those in wrapt attention ‘Twas the night before Christmas’.  Others reaching down from the bookshelves a copy of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ and re-reading that.  Others preferring a selection of ghost stories for Christmas.

I’m torn between them all.  But I have to tell you that I do love Dr Seuss’ book ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas.’  I like the book, not Jim Carrey’s film version to be honest and as with ‘The Cat in the hat’ it’s the language that this strange figure, Dr Seuss, gives us, the words that he plays with, that makes this book for me so intriguing.

For those who don’t really know the story, in brief, the Grinch hates Christmas and has hated it for years.  He looks down on the Whos who live in Whoville, with all their joy and their presents and their feasting – and finally he decides to put a stop to all this merry making.  So he gets dressed up like Father Christmas but instead of bringing the presents he steals them all and all the food, and then he waits to hear the cries of distress when the people discover that Christmas has been stolen.  The story continues


He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!"
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"


In a stable in Bethlehem a young woman holds the baby that has been born to her.  He’s silent in her arms, sleeping, peaceful, beautiful.  She looks at her baby with wonder and love.  The night had brought stars and angels and shepherds, but now in the clear light of day she is there holding this sleeping baby and she loves him. 

‘And the Word became flesh and lived among us.’

So many stories, so many words, so much to tell each other about God.  The prophets had spoken in many and various ways as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, a great deal had been said

‘but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.’

God speaks and the Word is made flesh.  This is a word unlike all the others that have been spoken.  So much that was beautiful had already been spoken as the prophet Isaiah reminds us in our First Reading

How beautiful upon the mountains
   are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news


Beautiful words that messengers had brought us.  But they were only words.  Now God speaks into the world and God’s word is made flesh and lives among us. 

"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

The little bit more is found in that baby, silent, in his mother’s arms, that little bit more is Jesus, who does not need to speak to be the Word.  Now he is silent, but he will speak, and he will be the Word that will change all things. 

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!"
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"


Jesus comes in the complete simplicity and vulnerability of the child, enters the world and waits to speak.  And Mary listens in the calm of the stable, and we listen.  Jesus comes as Word, as a child, and he comes to us now, to speak into our lives and to speak into our world.

Can you believe it? We’re almost at the end of the second decade of this new millennium.  The new ‘roaring twenties’ await us.  I remember Millennium Eve here so well.  Her Majesty and Prince Philip came to the Cathedral on their way down the river to the Dome to say their prayers before they sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ literally hand in hand with the Blairs.  We were full of optimism for what lay ahead.  We feared a Millennium Bug would bring down the whole of civilisation but the hands of the clock ticked past midnight and everything continued just as it had before.

But these have been demanding years and not the years we were perhaps anticipating.  The rise of global forms of terrorism were heralded in the events of 9/11.  Nothing would be the same again as al-Qaeda and Isis entered our language.  Huge advances in technology, social media, the arrival of Alexa to listen to our every command and perhaps more besides. ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, ‘The Crown’, more channels than we might ever want to watch.  Knife crime in our streets, the effects of climate change, the rise of populist politicians.  We enjoyed the most wonderful Olympic Games in this city, we were Cool Britannia and now perhaps now quite as cool as we step away from the global stage and enter a period of isolationism. 

And what has happened to you? 

Wherever we are, wherever you are, now, on this Christmas Day, Jesus has a word for you, Jesus has a word for us, Jesus is the word for us.  Mary will listen like every mother for his first word, so that she can hear his voice, so that he can break the silence of the infant and speak the word he incarnates.

What word do you need from Jesus, now, this Christmas, in the place where you are?  What word do you need to hear Jesus speak?  Perhaps you need to hear a word of peace; perhaps you need to hear a word of hope; perhaps you need to hear a word of love. 

"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

The little bit more is that God’s word of peace, God’s word of hope, above all God’s word of love, has become flesh.  But we’re not just here to listen to the word being spoken to us, we are here to speak that word to others.  We share that little bit more with those who are not here to encounter that Word today.

You see, the truth is that by this evening the presents will be unwrapped, the turkey will have been eaten, the champagne drunk, the big movie watched and people will be thinking of tomorrow.  Christmas will be all done and dusted.  But the real Christmas “comes without ribbons! It comes without tags. It comes without packages, boxes or bags!”  Christmas comes as a word to be heard, a word to be spoken, a word to be lived.  And it’s that that is the more of Christmas, that makes the Whos of Whoville merry.

Whatever word you need to hear, my friends, God speaks it to you, God speaks it to us, God speaks the divine being into our very humanity, as the Word is made flesh and dwells among us.  There is no better story to tell, no better song to sing, no better truth to live, no better hope to have, no better love to know.

And now the Word says to us ‘Come’.  Come to me, come to my table, come to my bread, come to my wine, come and feast and live and speak – be the more of Christmas today and be the more of Christmas tomorrow.