Archbishop Fred Hiltz
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
In her book, “Awaiting The Child: An Advent Journal,” Isabel Anders writes on Christmas Eve, “The ordered sequence of the weeks has brought us to the bedside of this babe, to the declaration that this child is indeed the Christ Child, the one toward whom all our waiting and expectations has been directed.” In the same reflection, she reminds us that beyond the festival of Christmas is the season of Epiphany — “a further revealing of Christ, his purposes for us and for the world.”
The word that holds the sequence of these seasons together is, “Come.”
In the first instance we know that word as a call to worship, as in the carol, “O come, all ye faithful.” With angels, shepherds, magi, saints of old, and with countless generations of those who have gone before us, we “come and behold him, born the King of angels. … We come and adore him.”
Then we know it as a prayer, as in the words of Philip Brooks:
“O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in;
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O Come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.”
We also know it as a longing, as in the words of the Litany for Advent, “O Wisdom from the mouth of the Most High, come and teach us how to live.”
For me, those words signify a deep desire to live a truly Christ-centered life, oriented in every way by the values of the kingdom Jesus announces. For the Church, they signify a deep desire for us to live graciously one with another in Christ, to be known for our unity and generosity in the service of the Gospel. For the world they represent a deep desire to invest in peace, “to beat swords into ploughshares,” to work for that day when war shall be no more.
Please remember in your prayers this Christmas those who suffer through war and its terrible consequences. Please remember Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed throughout the world and especially those in Afghanistan, their families and those who minister to them.
As we look to the New Year, let us begin to pray for the leaders of the G-8 nations who will gather in Canada in June. Let us pray that their leadership will be inspired by a vision of peace with justice for all people, and that by their decisions, 2010 will be a year of monumental progress in the interests of human rights, international security, peace among the nations, and the care of the earth.
In celebrating the birth of the Christ Child and the wonders of his love let us turn to him – as individuals, members of the Church, and as citizens of the world saying, “Lord Jesus, come and teach us how to live.”
May the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the obedience of Joseph and Mary, and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas.