Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I don't want a hippopotamus for Christmas!

Readings for the Christmas Midnight Mass: Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
One of the most curious of Christmas songs reminds us
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Its words are bizarre
and climax (as you will know) in some clever little rhyming
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles or rhinoceroses
I only like hippopotamuses
And hippopotamuses like me too!

But I don't quite get it
as nice as it may be to have an hippopotamus
what does it have to do with Christmas?
This is perhaps the crux of the dilemma that we face at Christmas
and that puzzles us a little.
- What exactly is on offer? -
We seem quite confused about this
so confused
that we might as well ask for a hippopotamus
as anything else.
This perhaps suggests that we may actually think
Christmas is a load of nonsense.
as nonsensical as asking for an hippopotamus!

The readings give us some clues that there is more on offer
Isaiah says: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Is 9:2)
And St Paul says The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all (Titus 2:11)
The evangelists tell us that some how this light, this gift
are tied up with the birth of a baby
called Jesus.
Who has changed the meaning of the world,
this seems a far cry from crocodiles, rhinoceroses
and certainly the much desired hippopotamuses!

So the choice you have today.....a hippopotamus
or light in your darkness, and God's gift for the world.

Let's assume that the reason we are reading this
or in Church hearing this is that we are probably
not too worried about the hippo.
What might this light mean?
What might this salvation be and do for me?

It is an invitation, if you like,
to come back to God
and to rediscover a sense of God's purpose for your life.
So tonight, our first prayer is
-- Turn our hearts and minds back to you --
May we pray with all our hearts that as we look to baby
that God may be real to us tonight, and always

-- Help us to grasp the meaning that the birth of Jesus is both personal and profound --
This is not meaningless activity or just a general promise
It is God saying to you and me
Wherever you need and lack in your life
whether it be in personal relationships
in sense of purpose
in recapturing a sense of direction
then there is a new birth offered tonight

-- May we never despise our fellow men and women, since we are all your children. Help us rather to fight against their hurt or degradation --
This is a prayer of commitment
and an acceptance of responsibility
as one baby calls us to remember
that we share a common humanity
Where do I need to stand up and be counted
for those who are being humiliated
in my little part of the universe.
Do I challenge those who bully other people at work, or at school?
Do I confront mental, physical and sexual abuse when I see it or do I prefer to think about the hippo?

-- Heal the broken bonds of human life --
Lots of relationship stuff about Christmas
there is a promise here of forgiveness
of new beginnings
of fruitful relationships
Sorting out of mess. Will you try to embrace this today?

-- Help us to hear your voice where we live and work --
This is a prayer about God being born amongst us.
We pray for awareness of God
in the very fabric of our life.

A bit more important than an hippopotamus
which after all is imaginary!
  • Turn back to God
  • be real in my personal life
  • Show me where to stand in solidarity with the oppresed and needy
  • Heal my impoversished relationships
  • Let me hear you speaking

And may the Saviour born in the manger at Bethlehem
be born afresh in your life this day

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