THE MAGIC OF MIDNIGHT
Tradition has it that magical things happen on Christmas Eve Night between the first and twelfth strikes of Midnight. The gossamer that separates all we know and experience and the unfathomable is at its thinnest.
Folk tales tell of animals talking in human language, often speaking home truths or predicting ominous happenings.
Other traditional stories speak of magic. Gold treasure being delivered to people living in poverty anonymously and to their obvious delight. Babies to childless women. Strange gatherings in woods and much merriment.
In the Christian faith we draw on a tradition as old as story-telling itself. At a moment when humanity least expects it, a child is born like billions before but at an astronomical alignment, a moment of history when people need a focus of hope and aspiration.
The baby has a vocation of shattering magnitude. He will teach bravely in a country occupied by an oppressive regime. Speaking of peace and the supremacy of forgiveness and love over retribution and hate. He will emphasise generosity of spirit, not having too much and sharing what you have. He will remain ambiguous when challenged by the political and religious authorities.
In time he gathers followers. He is seen as a threat and not as a source of wisdom. He stands by his vision. A kingdom needs to be built which makes sure all are fed; those who are vulnerable or marginalised are nurtured and empowered; those with power, exercise it with wisdom and diligence choosing always the way of peace and shared responsibility.
It is madness at face value; painful even. Unsettling certainly. But it is a potent vision. A magical hope.
Each Christmas Eve, we have a moment when the magic happens for us. Whether it’s sitting with our family in the gentle glow of the Christmas tree enjoying a mince pie and laughing at the telly. Or settling alone with a favourite book. It can be at an altar or by a hearth, but the magic is there for us to experience.
That feeling, however transitory is what will feed us to make a difference when things are harder and choices tougher.
I don’t think it matters if we believe in a very human-like God who made a human version of his/her god-ness to inspire, challenge and love us or not. It matters that we look each other in the eye; friend or foe and know each other as deeply in need of the magical interraction that the first Christmas represents.
Christmas is a time to bring joy and hope; let bygones be bygones and realise that love, there is no greater power, can shape our present and future in ways that fear, anxiety and anger have no place because they will destroy, impair and stop us being fully ourselves.
Take a risk this Christmas. Be the magic that needs to happen.
Have a magical, joyful Christmas.