Christmas – the mass of Christ

December 25th draws near! In many languages it is simply known as “The Birth” as in Italian Natale or Spanish Navidad, and probably French Noel. All these come ultimately from the Latin “natalis” – the birth. In Germany it’s Weinachten Holy Night.
Yet the English speaking world makes it more clearly Christ-centred – the word Christmas is a shortened form of “Christ’s Mass”. It is the day when we celebrate the Mass of Christ! Well, of course we can celebrate the Mass any day, and surely every Mass is a Mass “of Christ”. Yet there is a profound link between the Birth of Christ and the Mass of Christ, and that link can be found in the meaning of the season we are celebrating now. The coming of Christ – the Jesus who comes in every Mass is the same one who came at Bethlehem so long ago. When we receive Holy Communion it is a personal Advent, a personal coming of Jesus to us, yes, a personal Bethlehem.
So to observe and celebrate Christmas without the Mass is not being true to the meaning of the word – the Mass of Christ. But it also breaks that link between the Feast and the Eucharist – the God who Comes.

Our Masses for Christmas will again follow a pattern similar to past years:
Christmas Eve – 6.00pm St Paul’s, St Brigid’s and Christ the King. 10.00pm Christ the King Church
Christmas Day – 9.00am St Paul’s, 10.00am Christ the King, 11.00am St Brigid’s

Remember also we have our 3 Churches Carol Service one week earlier, on Wednesday 18 December at 7pm in St Brigid’s. Do invite friends etc to a Christmas Mass, and / or the Carols, and spread the celebration of the Coming of Jesus.

Fr Matthew

And God said…

Welcome to the Church’s Year of the Word! This is how the Bible begins in Genesis 1:1-3…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was a formless void,
there was darkness over the deep,
and God’s spirit hovered over the water.

God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.
“God said” That means God spoke light into existence – and the earth and universe and all they contain – and us. And what do we use to speak? Words, of course!
As we begin Advent, the start of a new Christian year – this time a special Year of the Word – we remember and celebrate the fact that God’s Word has been active since the very beginning. In this season we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, and that is about the Word too, the Word made flesh. St John puts it beautifully in the first chapter of his Gospel (John 1:1-5,14).

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men,

a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
Welcome to the Year of the Word, when we are invited to listen, learn and live God’s holy Word.

Christ the King

Malcolm Guite wrote “This Sunday is the last in the cycle of the Christian year, which ends with the feast of Christ the King, and next Sunday we begin our journey through time to eternity once more, with the first Sunday of Advent. We might expect the Feast of Christ the King to end the year with climactic images of Christ enthroned in Glory, seated high above all rule and authority, one before whom every knee shall bow, and of course those are powerful and important images, images of our humanity brought by him to the throne of the Heavens.”

Yet the Gospel speaks of Calvary, of the taunts of the authorities, the soldiers and the criminal, and the replies of Jesus. Three years ago we first printed Malcolm Guite’s sonnet for the Feast. Here it is again…

Our King is calling from the hungry furrows
Whilst we are cruising through the aisles of plenty, Our hoardings screen us from the man of sorrows, Our soundtracks drown his murmur: ‘I am thirsty’.

He stands in line to sign in as a stranger
And seek a welcome from the world he made, We see him only as a threat, a danger,
He asks for clothes, we strip-search him instead.

And if he should fall sick then we take care That he does not infect our private health, We lock him in the prisons of our fear
Lest he unlock the prison of our wealth.

But still on Sunday we shall stand and sing The praises of our hidden Lord and King.

From Malcolm Guite ‘Sounding the Seasons’ published by Canterbury Press.