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A sign. It is important to remember that Christmas itself is only a sign. A sign speaks of something beyond itself. All the trappings of Christmas - the decorated tree, lights, the presents we give, the crib, tinsel, crackers, the eating and drinking which make up our celebrations - are only "signs." What, please, is Christmas a sign of?

Christmas is a sign of God's presence with us. You see, even at the time it was only a sign. The Baby did not open his eyes and start preaching a sermon. He did not hand out "Sayings of Jesus," or give Christmas presents. The Baby was only a sign and could only have been understood later in the light of the life of the Person who was to be the Savior of the world. Indeed, here is a reminder that Christmas can only be understood in the light of later events, can only be discovered in all its wonderful freshness and life when we discover for ourselves that Jesus is the human face of God - the sign of God-with-us, Emmanuel.

But Jesus is a sign also of God's commitment to his world. You see, Christmas is linked with the season of Advent - the season of hope which sets before us the hope of his coming to restore all things and bring all things to a glorious conclusion.

That is the message of Christmas: COME HOME. Come home to his love. Come home to an understanding of the world which puts God at the center. Christmas is a sign of God's gracious invitation to celebrate his love personally by welcoming him into our hearts and lives, not just once a year but every day we live. May God bless us all this Christmas time as we make our way to the manger and celebrate the gift of his love and life.
The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. George L.Carey
Archbishop of Canterbury

11/19/2008