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It seems silly to talk about Christmas, although the weather might suggest we are in late autumn rather than early summer. But why not?
The Church’s calendar has reminders of Christmas right through the year. Midsummer Day, for instance, is the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, exactly six months away from Christmas.
According to the gospels, Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist six months before Mary conceived Jesus.
So the church celebrates the conception of Jesus on March 25, the birth of John on June 24, and the birth of Jesus on December 25.
All four quarters of the year are marked by episodes in the Christmas story.
That’s why I’m delighted that the Three Choirs Festival will be holding a ‘Christmas’ concert on August 5, with a splendid performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio by the choirs of the three cathedrals.
I don’t think we shall see Christmas trees in the nave, or an illuminated Santa on the cathedral tower, but it’s a timely reminder that the truths of the Christmas story are relevant to our lives all the year round.
Incidentally, I hope the readers of the Worcester News are booking their tickets for the Three Choirs Festival.
This will be the first festival in Worcester since I became dean, so it’s all new to me; but I’ve heard it suggested that the Three Choirs Festival, which attracts people from all over the world, and is one of the events that makes Worcester world-famous, doesn’t always seem to belong to the people of Worcester.
What a tragedy if that were true. The solution is simple: the people of Worcester should buy up all the tickets.
There’s something to suit a wide variety of musical tastes, so come and make the most of it.
In the meantime, here are some Christmas words which we might do well to ponder at any time of year:
Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong; and man, at war with man, hears not the love-song which they bring: hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.
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