Christmas Greeting 2019
As Christmas approaches, you can’t help but notice the importance of Christmas carols in creating the Christmas mood. There’s something inexplicably special about how they connect with our thoughts and mood. Even if the words aren’t enough to tell the story, the tune does the trick. The familiar Christmas carols have a strange and deeper meaning. There’s something nostalgic about them.
The roots of the word nostalgia lie in two Greek words. Nostos means homecoming. Algos means ailment or pain. So, nostalgia means missing home or missing something familiar. It means the kind of yearning or missing that includes love and loved ones and even pain or distress at the same time.
The nostalgia evoked by Christmas carols is a longing that is difficult to explain. It’s a longing that does more than merely start with the externals of Christmas – the decorations, the gifts, the lights. Christmas nostalgia is about the longing for a peace that is greater than ourselves. The peace that doesn’t merely start with a longing for our childhood home but for our heavenly home. That’s the secret of Christmas. It’s about recognising that we have a heavenly home, and as we sing those Christmas carols, we feel emotion, joy and longing.
The contrast of the meaning of Christmas is crystallised by nostalgia for this heavenly home. Instead of missing it or going there in our thoughts, it comes to us. Rather than trying to grasp heavenly peace, heavenly peace grasps us.
Christmas comes down to us – we don’t climb up to it. God is born as one of us. The voice of another world breaks into ours. At Christmas Christ is born in our daily lives to free us from our burdens and give us the Great Joy – the fulfilment of our longing for heaven.
Welcome to the traditional Christmas Eve service on December 24th at 3.30 pm in Helsinki Cathedral.