24 Dec Worship at Home: The song of joy (Midnight Mass)
The song of joy (Midnight Mass)
There does come a moment, when after all our Christmas preparations, we can do no more and have simply to stop. For many that moment comes at the end of the day on Christmas Eve.
It is a precious moment, a quiet moment. It might be in church at Midnight Mass, though that is less possible this year. Or it might be at home when finally we can sit down and breath.
However or wherever we find it, it is in that moment that we might just hear the angels sing and, as we listen, reflect again on the news they bring, of a baby born in Bethlehem, and good news of joy for the world.
Reading – Luke 2.1-14
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
Reflection by David Whitely
The birth of Jesus was heralded. Angels declared it. People brought gifts to honour it. A star signified it, and yet at the same time, there was no place at the inn. At the same time, his birthplace was in a manger.
We should never despise or be defined by our humble beginnings. Jesus’ birth was not celebrated because of what he was doing at the time of birth but what he would do.
At that point, he was at the mercy of his parents’ upbringing, a child with no sway in the direction that the world went, but his destiny, his future was worth celebrating right then and there.
You may not have gotten to where you want to be yet, achieved what you hoped to achieve. You may not have made any major strides towards your goals, but you can commemorate the beginning of the journey. You can celebrate the start of your ventures with the hope of your brighter tomorrow.
Jesus was always looking ahead and moving according to what he knew he would do and who he knew he would become. Too often, we’re crippled by our current circumstances or others’ current perception of us. Well, our current condition only serves to make our future victories that much more sweet and that much more inspiring.
You’re in your genesis now, but the revelation of who you really are is still coming. The book of your life is still writing itself. Don’t get stuck on your current chapter when your crescendo is awaiting you.
Let that hope and that future expectation put a present smile on your face and a present peace in your heart.
David Whitely is a radio and TV presenter.
What might you do today that might seem insignificant but could make a big difference in weeks or months to come? As you stop and pause, it might be that something unexpected comes to mind.
God of joy
in the quiet stillness of this holy night
may we hear the angels sing
and know in the celebration of Jesus’ birth
peace for the present
and hope for the future
Explore the reading and reflection featured here further by watching our Midnight Mass with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Dover, broadcast on 24 December.
Our daily Nine Lessons and Carols for Christmas reflections featuring full audio and music begin tomorrow on Christmas Day with Archbishop Justin Welby.
What brings joy today?
Everything that makes Christmas exciting
Gather round your Christmas tree and look at the decorations. Tell each other which is your favourite and why.
Who needs comfort today?
Those who are home alone
Do you know someone who will be home alone this Christmas? Surprise them with a phone or video call.