Sunday, 26 December 2010
Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen. Today is the feast of Stephen!
And for most of the UK the snow is "laying round about" though not necessarily deep, crisp and even as for the most part its been around for several days. But the carol is all about the tale of a monarch who set aside his own comfort (and that of his page who got roped into helping too) and went out into the bitter weather to help a poor man.
For a number of reasons, some personal and some through the media, I have been dwelling on "those less fortunate" than myself... It's a real catch all phrase that can often come over as rather haughty but it's worth a little "unpacking" because, despite how bad things are for us, there is rarely no-one who we can identify who is less fortunate...
And somehow it's worse at Christmas and I'm not entirely sure why that should be. Somehow we've slipped into making the festival a celebration of loving families, with ideal gifts and merry-making. Maybe it's because the Christ child came into a family who are always portrayed as being in perfect loving harmony
Then, if you add to that the myth that has built up around the "ideal Christmas" and filter it all through your memory - which is probably like mine and has a self-select facility that only stores the good times - then bingo, Christmas becomes a celebration of loving families.
But life in general and families in particular aren't like that and Christmas day is a day like any other for humanity. People are born and some die. People return to health and some fall ill. People share joyful times and some argue. Remember the Boxing Day tsunami and the horror that unfolded in its wake? Life continues as usual... yet its more extreme at Christmas... and each succeeding year brings back that heightened memory.
However, Christmas is actually about celebrating the birth of Christ, who came to share our joy but - more importantly - to share our pain... who told us that He is "those less fortunate"
Wenceslas went out to find the Christ child