Christmas Eve, Carols Service
Christmas Eve is a time for candlelight.
It is a time when one desires little more
than family and soft music.
Who can say what passes through our hearts on Christmas Eve?
Christmas Eve is a time to be quietly glad.
It is a time to wonder, to give thanks,
and of quiet awakening to beauty
that still lives on through the strife
of a war-torn world.
But Christmas Eve is also a time for memories and remembering.
For some, the memories are of loved family members
who have died, and the festive season
makes the pain of those losses ever more real.
For others, the memories are of happier times than we know now,
felt as the anguish of broken relationships,
the insecurity around employment,
the anxiety of illness or poor health,
or the emptiness of loss after flood, drought, earthquake or mine disaster.
All these feelings can be with us this night
as we gather in this sacred place surrounded by candles shining bright
in the dark of night.
Here we are safe to feel what we feel:
to acknowledge our sadness,
to share our concern,
to release our anger,
to face our emptiness,
and still to know that God by what ever name or experience,
is made present in the caring thoughts and deeds of others.
So let us be and share and remember and receive,
assured that we are not alone in our life experiences.
On the day after Boxing Day I received this gift via email.
I attended a Christmas eve service for the first time in my life. It was yours at St Matthews.
When I arrived home I wrote this poem and I trust you will take something positive from it, as I did from you. It's the experience of one person among hundreds.
You may recognise the opening words as having been spoken by you during the carols...
Christmas at St Matthews
Peace rolls on
Through strife and war
Struck numb by loneliness
He doesn’t know
Is just at his back
By the cathedral door
On his right
The older lady from Wellington
With her nervously excited,
Through constant glances
For her mother’s enjoyment,
Changing places with father
To be closer still
To his left
A young man
Thinking of his England
And tortured times in his teens
There to remember his mother
Taken by cancer,
A Grandfather, still alive,
So far away, and
A father he never pleased,
Now never sees
Behind him a Buddhist monk,
Courteously bowing his head
Here from Japan to
To witness a Christian service
Flowing over his head
Tumbling from the pulpit
Invoking his thoughts
Of a relationship broken,
The loneliness born of loss,
The uncertainty coming
With a job soon to end...
Reflected on in calmness,
Just for now
On the waterfall of
Pushed from great pipes
By the delicate touch
Of a joyful man,
(His animated body
shaking long blond hair),
Dwarfed beneath vaulting arches
Meeting clearer mind
Hoping, as if by looking,
The bells peeling
That it’s Christmas!
Love and hope,
To more than just
Those who hear,
Who have been,
On this one night,
Graeme on Christmas carols at St Matthews, Auckland, December 24, 2010