Each year, it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome hundreds of children and their parents and teachers to church for their school carol services. This is the basic talk I will use for each of this year’s 10 school services, adapting it to each context and age group.
Welcome to All Saints Church for this very special Christmas service. I hope – and having seen the rehearsals, I’m confident – that this evening will be one of great joy and excitement as we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
As we hear that great story unfold here tonight, I pray that you will experience the joy and hope which is born of knowing that, in the person of the tiniest, poorest, lowliest child, God is present. And in the presence of God is the fullness of love.
I pray that the Christmas joy we experience opens our eyes to see God among us in the world. The God whom we worship in the manger is all around – in refugees, the homeless, and all who have nowhere to lay their head; in unconventional families, in parents and children facing hardship; in the poorest, and in the wisest – and in us.
The poet Elizabeth Barratt Browning said:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”
This evening, I invite you to be among those who turn aside from the everyday things, put down our ordinary concerns, our pre-Christmas busyness, for a little while, and enter into the awe and mystery of the incarnation – God made human in Jesus, the light of the world.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” Here – in the music, the readings – we catch a glimpse of the light of Christ. And when we go from here, we have that light to take with us – that joy and peace which comes from God – to carry with us into our Christmas celebrations and beyond.