Rector's Chronicle

22 December 2017

“I can’t stand liars and fakes!”
“You are so beautiful and intelligent!”
“You see! Why can’t everyone just be honest and genuine like you!”
As we celebrate this great season of cheer and goodwill, we are, more than ever perhaps, conscious of the fragile relationship between truth and falsehood. As we turn our eyes to the stable in Bethlehem, our hearts and souls are athirst for good news, but our ears ring with fake news every day. Just which news is fake and which is true depends, of course, on which town crier we trust and which tribe we belong to.
In the Christmas liturgy, and in every liturgy, we seek a space where we can put the contested truth of the day to day behind us, and endeavor, in all humility, to approach the source of all truth.
Christmas, it is true, can seem a rather sentimental thing. Babies and shepherds and children’s stockings bring many a tear to many an eye.
And yet, I don’t believe such feelings to be fake. I think they are a product of how God reaches out to us in this picture of events he draws in our history. Human hearts are more or less closed to argument and moral assertions most of the time. So God puts before us something that makes no argument or moral claim.
The French writer Paul Claudel, on a Christmas Eve when he was 18 years old, attended Vespers at Notre Dame de Paris. As the choir was singing the Magnificat, he writes, "In an instant, my heart was touched and I believed. I believed with such force, with such relief of all my being, a conviction so powerful, so certain and without any room for doubt, that ever since, all the books, all the arguments, all the hazards of my agitated life have never shaken my faith, nor to tell the truth have they even touched it." 
Christmas begins with God’s appeal to us through beauty. The child in the stable. Weakness smiling victory over strength. Wriggling humanity, laughter overcoming malice. The light that chases the darkness. On experiencing it, we discover that this beauty is truly good. Not all beauty is. On understanding it’s goodness we cannot but accept its truth.
The English writer Lord David Cecil said “Christianity has compelled the mind of man, not because it is the most cheering view of human existence, but because it is the truest to the facts,” the facts that is, of our own lives and experience. 

May God bless you and your homes this Christmas and may all of us allow the beauty of the incarnation to bring us to know the good news and truth. 


The Reverend Timothy A. R. Cole