If Uxbridge were Bethlehem, where would Jesus be born?
An interesting question. Each year we re-tell the stories of the birth of Jesus. The place names are familiar to us, and yet, unless you have had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land, they are strange foreign names. We hear about the impact of government tax planning, forced movement of people, the plight of migrants that cannot find a place to stay and of a family that has to flee to a foreign country to escape persecution and death. The stories are old but the experiences are as up-to-date as today’s newspaper. Which begs the question, what does this story have to say about our world today? And another question, if Jesus was born here today, where would he be born?
Where is the equivalent of the Bethlehem stable? Is it under a canal bridge? Or a winter night shelter? Who would his mother be? A single mum in an awkward relationship with an older man? And who would be the ones that recognise his presence? The foreigners who turn up wearing strange clothes? The dirty smelly workers who do the jobs no one else wants to do? The people who hear voices and see visions the rest of us don’t understand?
Christmas is a special time for families and a time for celebrating a story that reminds us how much God loves the world and loves us. But it is also a difficult time for many: the lonely, families that don’t always experience harmony and, those who don’t have the resources to join in what most people think is the purpose of Christmas – spending money.
I do wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas, but I also pray that we will not forget or ignore the challenges that the Christmas story brings and that in simple ways we might all bring a bit of Christmas cheer to someone who finds Christmas difficult.
With Best wishes
This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Look-In, our monthly church magazine. To download the full issue, please click here: Look-In Dec 2015