There are many events celebrated by Christians throughout the year which are connected with the birth of Jesus.
The first is the Annunciation on 25th March, nine months before Christmas day.
It marks the moment when the angel appears to Mary and calls her to be the mother of the Saviour.
Mary says ‘ let it be done to me according to your word’.
She says ‘yes’ to playing her part in making Jesus present in the world.
Later in the year we recall an event called the Visitation. Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth who is also playing her part. She is to bring a son into the world called John the Baptist.
After generations of prophets looking forward to the coming of Jesus, John is the last prophet who lets the people know that the time has come.
The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is well known by most people. After Christmas we celebrate the Epiphany.
The baby Jesus is shown to the world and the wise men bring gifts to call every nation to worship.
Joseph too has a part to play in the Christmas story, he is to be the foster-father of Jesus and guardian and protector of the Holy Family.
When the first death sentence is passed on Jesus Joseph leads the family to safety and exile in Egypt; they return home when Herod is dead.
Two other events in Jesus’ early life show us why he came.
As a baby he is offered in the Temple following Jewish tradition. It marks his union with God the Father and his life of sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Finally, as a boy visiting the Temple, Mary and Joseph lose sight of him and become anxious; thy find him talking to the religious leaders.
In these final days before Christmas may we not lose sight of its real meaning on the day and throughout the coming year.
On behalf of all the parishioners of St Mary and St Joseph’s Church may I wish you and all your readers a happy and peaceful Christmas.