Sarah Teather gives BBC Christmas meditation

Annunciation to the shepherds  Flinck1639
Annunciation to the shepherds Flinck 1639

Sarah Teather, Director of Jesuit Refugee Service UK, is giving this year’s Christmas Meditation for Radio 4 just after the midnight news on Christmas Day night/Boxing Day morning.

Sarah’s personal meditation finds the joy of Christmas breaking through in the messy painful struggles of life, including family tragedy and the lives of refugees. 

Speaking of the process of preparing her meditation Sarah observed, “This was challenging but also deeply rewarding project to be involved in.  The BBC asked me to draft text that was very personal, reflecting on the aspects of my life and my work with refugees, and connecting it together with aspects of the Christmas story in a way that might resonate widely. I was conscious though of approaching Christmas feeling rather out of kilter because my younger brother died earlier this year. There is a big hole in the family and in my own life. But as I started to reflect on that and on my work too and what I might bring to the programme, it occurred to me that many people listening would probably be in a similar situation. 

Featuring beautiful choral settings by Francis Poulenc, James MacMillan and David Bednall, the programme weaves music and text to explore profound themes of human life and the Christmas story. 

“Ultimately, text actually came out of the music,” she explained, “I have used three choral settings of music, none of which are particularly well known. But the deep trust in the coming of the kingdom of justice in movements from David Bednall’s Christmas Cantata, the brilliance of the chorus from James MacMillan’s motet and the melodic line from the Poulenc got under my skin.

“There is a line from JRS’ charter affirming that God is present even in the most tragic of situations and I’ve found that as useful in my personal life as in my work with refugees.”

For those who don’t catch it live, it will be available on iplayer afterwards, along with the text.