School Chaplain’s Christmas

Christmas from Revd Canon Matt Gray, the Chaplain of The Hutchins School, Hobart:

Lately we have been talking about our technology strategies a lot so I thought we might follow the BYOD theme. I have been showing a clever clip telling the Christmas story using social media.  It goes like this:

  • Google Earth locates Nazareth for us
  • Gabriel sends an SMS text to Mary for the annunciation which she passes to Joseph in a panicky highlighted email: “Joseph we need to talk”
  • Google maps looks for directions to Bethlehem – ticking the “avoid Romans” box
  • Joseph books a donkey online with Hertz and searches limited accommodation eventually settling on “stable”
  • Joseph twitters the birth of Jesus with a picture – it gets ‘000s of Likes.
  • The wise men book an event on Facebook called “meet the baby” – twittering #worshipthebaby
  • The wise men buy their gifts from Amazon.
  • Finally the video of the event is uploaded onto YouTube.

View the clip here if you are interested.

The events surrounding Jesus’ birth are such a strange mixture of the mundane and the extraordinary. The clip emphasises this by illustrating the way God breaks in to our experience. We plod through the daily grind or the busyness of the moment.

We are often encouraged to take hold of the moment – to seize the day – carpe diem. The movie Dead Poets’ Society gave immense popularity to this phrase as a banner for life. The original phrase is from Horace – he did not trust the gods of his age, erratic and unknowable gods who could not be relied upon or understood in any way. Therefore, seize the day meant trusting as little as possible in the future.

But what a change came over that landscape in just one century! The Incarnation – the story of Christmas – is that God came down to us. He became one of us and experienced all the limitations, sufferings and humiliations, as well as the joys and triumphs of a human life.

The message was that God has a plan for us: the future is not to be feared or ignored, but embraced as a gift of God. As is the day. Rather than seizing the day like it is some wild animal in need of taming, the chaos and futility of the future has been rejected. There is now meaning in every moment. God has an ultimate purpose and a plan for us. We will not always get it or understand it but we can know that the future is guided by an all-powerful presence, both loving and good. How can we know? Is this just ‘pie in the sky when you die’ optimism.

The answer is in the Christmas story – God did not just give us a greeting card sentiment but a man who lived and died and defeated death that we might see and know that a future has been won for us. There is no need to fear, whether it is the past, the present or the future. God has assured it if we will just trust him. So rather than seize the day I want to offer some alternatives.

  • Transform the day – transfigurare die
  • Enjoy the day – frui die
  • Receive the day – diem recipere
  • Trust the day – confidere die
  • Have a wonderful Christmas day – glorious Dei

Reverend Canon Matthew Gray, Chaplain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *