Thursday, December 23, 2010

greatest story

The BBC's retelling of the Nativity over four nights this Christmas has, for me, been a triumph. 7pm every night, prime time viewing, the nation's main channel has told the story of the birth of Christ in a way which has blended the Scriptures, the stained glass versions, the traditions we think are in the Bible but aren't, a bit of scholarly guesswork and a lot of human relationships which must be at the heart of any story involving God and people.

Mary & Joseph were particularly good, though I shall never see St Anne in the same light again...

I might vary at various points in interpretation. That would be nitpicking. This isn't a theological symposium, this is the BBC. In the final programme, as Jesus is born and the shepherds are drawn to the stable and the wise men follow, the wonder of God coming amongst us, coming for such as us, and the urge to weep and to worship simply overwhelmed me. I didn't expect that, had no right to expect that, and suddenly found my whole preparation for Christmas had shot into a different league.

To be fair, this has been an unusual Christmas week. Our Carol Service was delayed from Sunday night till last night, and as we sang all the usual carols I found myself again profoundly moved by the awesome majestic God who abandons heaven for a cow shed, perfection for Israel, eternity for the bonds of passing time. And why? Because he loves us. You. Me. And to not make that journey is to abandon us; so love leaves comfort to comfort those who have no idea that they are even mourning.

The greatest stories are great because they draw us into their narrative, or our narrative becomes a part of theirs, and this week Christmas has been working on me. Perhaps it is the fairy tale snow everywhere, or perhaps my heart simply needs to be reminded that I too am with the rest of Creation pressing into that stable, seeing that sight, wondering, worshipping, in awe and struck by love.

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