EVERY year Google publishes the questions most commonly asked via its search engine.
Some of the questions, such as ‘what is facebook?’ belong to the 21st century, but a regular chart-topper has been around for rather longer: ‘what is love?’
It makes me wonder if these questions might be connected.
After all, the reason for the popularity of facebook and other forms of social networking has to do with the universal longing for connection, for communities to belong to, for relationships, and ultimately for love. It says in the biblical book of Genesis, ‘it is not good for a human being to be alone’.
A school or a club is a ‘social network’ in its own right, and so is a church or cathedral: although based more on ‘face-to-face’ relationships than the virtual.
After all, the Christian faith is based on the idea that connection is everything: connection to our Creator; connection to the whole human race and the natural world; always seeking to learn more about our place in the universe – the ultimate social network.
At Christmas we celebrate a story about connection, and a story about love, in which our Creator reaches out to us in the birth of a child.
‘Love came down at Christmas’, wrote Christina Rosetti, ‘Love all lovely, Love Divine/Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave the sign.’
Some ways of telling the Christmas story are better than others. Commercial Christmas, with its ‘Glory to God in the High Street’, has its limitations. Christmas is to be celebrated rather than consumed! Carol services, nativity plays, and community festivals, as well as reaching out to those in need, are better ways of getting the message. Love did indeed come down at Christmas, and the birth of Jesus renews our hopes for the peace of the whole world.
I and my cathedral colleagues wish you a very happy Christmas with your ‘social network’, full of the joy, generosity, hope and love found in the Christ-child.