Chaplains Christmas Blog

As I write, Bishop’s is sprouting (if you pardon the pun!) Christmas decorations. Reception are showcasing Christmas trees, the DT department has lights festooned from the rafters, sparkling lights have spilled out of the Golding Study room into the stairwell at the top of the Chapel block and Mrs Paden and Mrs Grayer have gone to town in their office with a charming nativity crib scene complete with an elephant on a skateboard. Obviously.....

Christmas Elephant

Yet despite our best efforts I have been struck by the number of students who have said to me that they don’t “feel” Christmassy. Perhaps that’s the December grey days which don’t seem to get light; perhaps the tank is empty after a long and draining term; perhaps it’s a response to bleak news.

Do I ‘feel’ Christmassy? I’m enjoying seeing the lights, both in school and in the city as I leave school in the dark. I paused to marvel at the logistical nightmare of winching the huge Cathedral Christmas tree in through the West End doors. Decorated with golden lights, it looked gorgeous from the Quire as the Year 12s gathered for Cathedral Reflections.


But I do recognise the “not entirely Christmassy vibe” the students are expressing.

On one level, but actually at a deeper level, I wonder whether I am actually feeling more authentically Christmassy than less. There’s not much ‘Love Actually’, tinsel and ‘Santa Baby’ in the Christmas story at the heart of the Christian faith. There is however a heavily pregnant, scared 15 year old girl, forced by an arbitrary geopolitical demand for a census, to travel away from her family. She gives birth in squalor. That was in Bethlehem. Just 45 miles from Gaza. The old, old story seems to be resonating with our own times and helps me as I feel pain and sorrow at the news.

The light will come. Not just in the fairy light sense of our school decorations but when the world will turn to peace and recognise the beauty in every human face.

That is my faith and my hope as Christmas comes this year.