Happy Christmas’

Published December 1, 2011

That’s the title of an old hand-stitched silk bookmark tucked in the prayer book my dad gave my mother in 1969.
The text reads:

“Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn,
Draw forth the cheerful day from night.
O Father, touch the east, and light
The light that shone when Hope was born.”
—A. Tennyson

I am grateful beyond measure to have this treasure in my possession.

I have some others too. I think of the hand-painted glass Christmas tree ornaments that belonged to my parents and my grandparents on both sides of my family. With awe, Lynne and I unwrap them each year as we decorate the tree. Then, with great care, we rewrap them and pack them away in the hope of sharing Christmas together for many years to come.

Far less costly than those ornaments in their day and yet in many ways just as precious to me is the collection of figures from a creche that always adorned the mantel of the fireplace in my childhood home. By many standards, the figures are cheap and rather grossly painted, but for the most part, they are still intact, even the animals. A couple of the sheep do have missing legs, but I prop them up with the straw in which I nestle Mary, Joseph and the Holy Child in the creche I arrange in my study.

Though it is simple, it sets before me the exceeding love of our Lord who in great humility came down from heaven and took upon himself the frailty of our flesh. He came to redeem the world, to announce peace among the nations and to bring us all to newness of life.

As we rejoice in the mystery of his incarnation, let us pray with men and women of every age.

“Lord Jesus, Child of Bethlehem, for love of us made man/Create in us love so pure and perfect that whatsoever our heart loveth may be after Thy will, in Thy name, and for Thy sake.”
(From The Blessing of the Crib on Christmas Eve, The Canadian Book of Occasional Offices, p. 114)

In the spirit of that prayer, I wish you one and all a Happy and Blessed Christmas.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.


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