The cab journey back from Blackfen following Midnight Mass this year was rather interesting. It began with the cab driver asking me about the Mass I had just come from, and some of the symbolism and theology of Christmas (he had apparently been listening to something on the radio earlier in the evening which sparked his interest). He explained that he was a Muslim (in his words, 'not a very good one, not really practicing'), and that he had been brought up to respect Christians (which, I believe, is what the Koran actually teaches). He also told me how annoyed he was by the atheistic lobby who try to suppress public displays of religion. The whole conversation ended with him asking me to pray for him (quite a humbling request, but one which I was happy to carry out).
Similarly, the events at the end of term were also of interest. While the school is very secular, we managed this year to have a very Christian Advent Calendar, in the form of a Nativity Scene, on display (this was originally oredred because our RE teacher had planned to do some lessons around it). Unsurprisngly it did not upset any pupils: several were practicing Christians (notably a number of Catholics among them) and expected it; others were curious or liked it because it was an attractive image; certainly they were all accepting. The only concern was raised by a member of staff, who though it might upset the pupils (sic).
Our end of term concert also managed to include a number of Christian foci, including a rendition of 'Away in a Manger' (which, of course mentions the Holy Name five times), the tunes of several other proper carols, a reflection of how Christmas is celebrated in Brazil (by a pupil originally from there), and a very moving modern hymn (with a distictly Marian angle), sung by the daughter of one of our staff, who had originally been 'roped in' to assist with musical accompaniment. Again no difficulties, only compliments.
So why exactly are so many in official positions concerned with avoiding the religious aspects of this season?
Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis; et vidimus gloriam Ejus, gloriam quasi Unigenti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.