This evening our hearts cannot be but bruised and broken, as we think of the events that unfolded in George Square on Monday afternoon. Perhaps like many of you, my first reaction on hearing the news was to make sure my own family was safe. My nephew was only a street away, shopping in Buchanan St. When I managed to speak to him I was immediately relieved, but then my thoughts and prayers naturally turned to the dying and injured, those families and relatives who would know only grief and pain this Christmas. And tonight our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Glasgow has been touch with tragedy; just over a year since the Clutha Bar, the terrible accident in George Square reminds us all just how fragile and delicate our lives really are. How in the midst of life, even out Christmas shopping we can be touched by death.
In our darkness moments of doubt and disbelief we might ask that most human of questions; Where was God in all this? Perhaps, an impertinent or sacrilegious question to ask at Midnight Mass: where was God?
Where was God in the tragedy of George Square or the Clutha Bar or the school in Pakistan, were so many innocent children lost their lives. Was God absent? Was he not there?
Of course he was there in the compassion and bravery of those who went to the help the injured and dying. Of the teacher in the school in Pakistan, who defended her pupils and gave her life for them. There in the Glaswegians who ran into the collapsing building of the Clutha bar to rescue survivors. There in the shoppers in a Glasgow Street who ran to the help of others on Monday afternoon. God is never really absent even when we are sorely tempted to believe he is.
And tonight at this Midnight mass we are surely reminded of that. God is present. Present in the weak humanity of our human flesh, in all its frailty and vulnerability. Yet God chooses to show his strength in an innocent little child, in our infant saviour who is truly and fully human. And it will be by that very humanity that he save us and redeem us. Because in the great mystery of this night, in the deepest darkness of this hour, a light has shone which no darkness can ever overcome. Not the darkness of tragedy or death, nor conflict or war.
In the final reading of our Carol Service we heard an account of how on Christmas day in the battlefields of the First War the goodness of our divine like humanity triumphed for an hour amidst the horror of war. Men had the courage and faith to leave their trenches and exchange the peace of Christmas day with those who were called their enemy.
One hundred years ago the light of the Christ-child brought humanity back from the most inhuman of places, back from the killing fields of France to its proper senses. Even, if but for only a moment, in that truce on Christmas day we recognized our true humanity. Still it was a triumph of our true human nature found in fellowship and peace, generosity and care for others not in the conflict of war, or self-interest or greed. For our true humanity comes from God
He is the author of who and what we are; and we are made in his divine image and likeness. Perhaps it is difficult for us to believe that, to believe that we are made in God’s image because we seem to know God more by absence that by his presence. And that seems to be the disease of modern age the denial of God in our world, our society, even in our homes and the ultimate lie of all the denial of God in our selves.
But tonight God himself challenges that greatest of all sacrilege, the denial of who we truly are; truth of our human nature. For tonight God himself becomes one of us tin a little child hat we may ever know that we are one with him.
The mystery of the incarnation proves to us that God is never absent, for in all and every circumstance of life he is present, present in the truth and depth of our humanity, present even when we deny that humanity, he is there at the depth of our being. To deny him is to deny the very truth of our selves. The divine stark, our true nature capable of such selfless virtue, such outstanding courage and wonderful generosity.
In the face of the Christ child we see who we really are; yes, certainly a frail human being, but with a humanity capable of godlike goodness and greatness. The incarnation remind us of who and what we truly are: children of God. Sons and daughter with eternal Son of God who bring us the truth of who we are and why God is never absent because he is present in me.