This Christmas as other Christians sing O Holy Night, it seems to be a grim night in the Anglican camp. Archbishop Cranmer is bemoaning a new subtle root of inclusiveness that is creeping into the camp. Apparently new forms of Christmas carols are making the Royal Holloway College bend over backwards in all forms of theological twists and knots:
[These] ‘inclusive’ Christmas carols services – you know, the sort that bend over backwards to be all things to all people in order that by any means possible none may be offended. In fact, it is these sort of gospel-lite and theology-free services which are largely responsible for people not finding Christ – even at Christmas.
Royal Holloway College, in the University of London, held its Christmas carol service in its own College Chapel, presided over jointly by the College’s Chaplain – an Anglican vicar, the Rev’d Cate Irvine, and a Roman Catholic chaplain from the local church, Fr Vladimir Nikiforov.
And what did the assembled festive throng hear? The prophecy of of Isaiah? ‘For unto us a child is born…’? The Gospel of Luke? ‘There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…’? A reading from Micah, perhaps? ‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel’?
No, none of the above. Instead, they got the Qur’an:
Behold! the angels said “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus the son of Mary held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.
“He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity and he shall be of the company of the righteous.”
She said: “O my Lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah createth what He willeth; when He hath decreed a plan He but saith to it ‘Be’ and it is!
“And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom the Law and the Gospel.
“And (appoint him) an Apostle to the Children of Israel with this message: I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave; and I heal those born blind and the lepers and I quicken the dead by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe.
“I have come to you to attest the Law which was before me and to make lawful to you part of what was before forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me.
“It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a way that is straight.” (Qur’an 3:45-51)
Archbishop Cranmer makes an interesting note here: Perhaps we should be grateful that the Rev’d Cate and Fr Vladimir didn’t select this reading:
That they rejected faith: that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge.
That they said in boast “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary the Apostle of Allah”; but they killed him not nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts with no (certain) knowledge but only conjecture to follow for of a surety they killed him not. (Qur’an 4:156-158)
Perhaps they’re saving that for Easter.
Hmmm. Thanks for livening my ‘Christmas spirit’ you dilettantes!