What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Christmas is a funny time.  It means so many different things to so many different people.  It is joy; it is peace.  It is chaos; it is stress.  It stirs up questions about privilege – both as a holiday demanding priority over other traditions, and as a time when the use and flaunting of wealth and consumerism are at a peak.  It encourages giving; it claims to be a time of kindness.  It opens wounds of loneliness and grief; it brings us together.

For me, Christmas is a time to celebrate friendships and treasured family members.  A time to be immersed in the beauty of music that expresses sacred images, sacred experiences.  My particular tradition involves the story of a mother who cradles her child in a humble stable.  A child she has been told will offer a great gift to the world.  It is a story of peace.  It is a story of hope.  A story promising that kindness and love can permeate and change a world filled with pain, chaos and stress.  A story that grows into an example of justice for all; rejection of none.

This Christmas story is one of peace and hope despite our frequent failures to achieve what was intended – as a church and as individuals.  Those that came to honour this child, remind me that there are other traditions, religions, belief systems, ideologies and perspectives that also offer this hope; other stories to hear, to treasure, to inspire.  There are many, many ways to envision a peace filled world. This happens to be mine.

I share this haunting melody with you as a reminder of the sadness we see in our world.  I share it as a reminder of the beauty.  I share it as a reminder to myself to consider the gifts I can give; the joy I can spread.

And, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.