Over the last few months I have increasingly felt a link between Christmas and Holy Communion. It has been encapsulated in the first line of Christina Rosetti’s poem, ‘Love came down at Christmas’. The incredible message and truth of the Incarnation – God embodied – the infinite God ‘fitting into’ the baby Jesus as testified at Christmas and which is the truth that always accompanies Jesus makes me pause when I hold bread and wine at church, in homes, in hospitals and trust that Jesus – this same one who is born, dies, and is raised – is actually present and coming to those communing. My senses tell me that my faith is nonsense. But Christmas tells me otherwise!
In a world that seems increasingly anxious, people more and more medicated, and where darkness seems to be looming, the message of Christmas and Holy Communion seems to me light – and life – and hope in this world – and into us. And I’m saying ‘into’ deliberately. ‘Into’ as eating and drinking does it. It’s physical. It’s to do with bodies. It’s personal. It’s intimate. Yes, that’s Christmas … and the real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion.
Love has come down at Christmas – and love is still coming to people through this most special encounter. His name is Jesus. He is Immanuel – with us. And we are in his school of love – marked by behaviour, service, and obedience – which doesn’t sound romantic or full of feelings (our usual default view about love) but instead is living that is ‘full bodied’, active, and with purpose. Love has come down at Christmas means that there is meaning to living. His name is Jesus. And for the journey – for our daily living – we receive bread and wine – hold it – taste it – and Jesus comes to us – a person is where his body and blood is! – and he gives us life, healing, and strength. Love comes down not just at Christmas. His name is Jesus.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Christina Rosetti, 1885
A blessed and holy and safe Christmas to you! GS