The 2010 Christmas Message from the Right Reverend John Christie, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, follows.
'The larks still bravely singing fly, scarce heard amid the guns below.'
Christmas lights brighten the mid winter. There is an urgency around which seems at odds with a Northern Hemisphere winter during which nature is largely dormant. Before the Remembrance poppy has bloomed sacred and secular Christmas music was being played in some shops keen to get the Christmas season underway.
Truth is that the Christmas season does not begin until Christmas Day. The four weeks before that are known as Advent which has much more to do with introspection and reflection and of looking forward to Jesus' birth and Christ's return so that we can be well-prepared for the former if the latter doesn't happen first and for the latter if it does!
There is no doubt that we live in difficult times. The world is ill-divided between rich and poor, our country has its armed forces serving in places like Afghanistan; families are separated one from the other; some will celebrate Christmas others won't.
The larks still bravely fly though they are scarce heard is Lieutenant Colonel John’s response to a world clamouring in his poem, 'In Flanders Fields' – a reminder of the consequence of war through generations of human history. That which drowns the lark's song is the same as that which drowns the angel chorus which sang of the birth of a child turning shepherds into seekers as they rushed to see baby – the son of a carpenter called Joseph and his wife Mary. Both far from home – it would have taken a week to undertake the journey – because the call to a census had taken them from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Homeless they'd managed to get a roof over their heads – but only just – the child's cot was a trough.
But the angels sang for him. For a moment discord was stilled. The angels lit the skies and for a minute or two the first faltering chords of a new symphony were heard.
'Peace on earth goodwill to everyone!'
Somewhere behind the clamour this Christmas may we hear the angels' song and, perhaps, begin to sing it ourselves so others can hear it too giving a new song which sings of faith, hope and love, of joy and peace. A song which creates a concord of harmony with the angels and shepherds and kings, with our friends and families, with our enemies and those with whom we disagree, one which draws us into the harmony of harmonies in the presence of Christ crucified and risen.
May you be blessed with Peace and joy this Christmas and through the New Year.