The first words spoken in our Carol Service are words of welcome, and encouragement. The words form what is called ‘The Preface’ of the service, and it’s our custom to vary the words slightly each year. Here is what was said this year:
Welcome to St Chrysostom’s Church as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. We gather in this varied and multi cultural community. We gather as peoples of different backgrounds, outlooks, and indeed different faiths. We gather in a time of uncertainty and upheaval in our world.
The story of Christmas unites us here. It tells us of the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem in a country knowing arbitrary political authority, and instability. A region in which peoples of differing cultures and beliefs gathered. Into such a world, our world, Christ was born, a sign of hope and light.
The story of Christmas delights us all, for it speaks of light in darkness, new life and future hope.
For Christians, of course, it is more for Christians believe the baby born in Bethlehem was God’s child. God sharing and knowing our vulnerabilities, and yet into that weakness bringing also divine and glorious hope for our world.
And so Christian believers, all people of faith, and all people of goodwill, are joined together here at St Chrysostom’s as we hear the story of Christ’s coming and sing together of hope, joy and glory coming to our troubled world.
But first let us pause and remember those who are particularly close to the love of God, the children of our world, the dispossessed, the underprivileged and marginalised of our society and world. Let us recall that the love of God embraces all equally. I invite you now, if you wish, to pray to the God of love for all who are in special need this Christmas time as we pray the words Christ has taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven…