On Thursday evening we held our Longest Night service (it only lasts an hour!)
This has become something of a tradition over the last few years....it is a short service of readings, prayers, silence (and lost of candles) in which we give space to sadness, grief, anger, pain - those aspects of being human that on;t always easily find a place in the rush, jollity and rejoicing of Christmas.
It is always a small service - and so it should be. But it is, for those of us who attend, very important. For it is about saying that the whole of who we are has a place in faith and therefore in church, because the whole of who we are is loved by God, and known by God.
It is also the affirmation that, in the Incarnation, the whole range of human experience is taken into the life of God - not just the happy, celebratory bits, not even just the cute and lovable bits - but also the angry, sweary, painful, lamenting, depressed, tearful, quiet, unhappy, despairing or ugly bits.
Ireneaus, writing in the early 2nd c.argued that "the glory of God is somebody fully alive" - that is, God is seen most fully in human life. Gregory of Nazianzus, towards the end of the 300s argued that "the unassumed is the unhealed" - in a debate about whether Jesus was fully human. His contention was that if the whole of us is to be saved, then Jesus must be fully human.
Taken together, these comments are a reminder that in the Incarnation, all of what it is to be human is taken into God's life and love - and therefore as we celebrate the feast of the Incarnation, it is right and proper to bring, to offer,and to honour, all that we are; the happy and the painful bits.
So, from all of us here at Bloomsbury, we pray for you a Christmas that involves the whole of you, and brings all of who you are into contact with the depth of the love of the God who knows us absolutely, not from the outside, but from deep within.