Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Pause for Thought on 22nd December, 2021
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, Malc Reddaway, Senior Chaplain, reminds us of the truth behind the story we are so familiar with. The festive season is a time to cherish those we love but to also remember those who are less fortunate this Christmas time. Malc says:
"We’re told it’s a record breaking year for new Christmas movies, yet along with Christmas cards they never seem to portray anything like reality. I sometimes stop and wonder whether it would be possible to produce and sell Christmas cards if they portrayed anything like the reality of the first Christmas?
"The embarrassment and fear on the faces of Mary and Joseph, unmarried young people expecting a baby, knocking on doors belonging to distant relatives in Bethlehem, seeking somewhere to sleep. An overcrowded dwelling which would have included an area for livestock on the lower level, probably with a feeding trough (that we cutely call a manger), between the area for animals and the living quarters. This all taking place under the rule of a hostile occupying force, who had enslaved half of the known world, ruling through brutality and fear.
"Then the inconvenience of shepherds, at the time some of the lowliest members of society, rocking up uninvited, asking to see the fragile new bundle of life, who an angel had instructed the bewildered young couple to call Jesus! All this whilst Joseph tried to work out where and how he could earn some money for his growing family; money which was going to be vital as they fled to Egypt, having become refugees, as Herod ordered the slaughter of the innocents, another scene that obviously has no place on Christmas cards.
"Would you buy a Christmas card if it depicted anything like the reality of the birth of Jesus? Yet, for so many in the world today a life of fear, poverty, oppression, rejection, war, imprisonment and fleeing from tyrannical forces to become refugees in an unwelcoming world, is reality.
"I’m sorry I paint such a bleak picture, one which this year of all years is probably less welcome, but it’s that word “welcome” that for me is so vital this year. Our world has changed so much since the birth of Christ, yet in so many ways it’s changed so little. The true message of Christmas is one of light coming into the darkness of our world to change it: to break the trends of oppression and fear, to bring in a new era of welcome, acceptance and equality.
"I pray that everyone reading this might find a time of joy, of refreshing and renewing over this Christmas period, but my prayer goes a little deeper than that - let’s make it our individual aim to be a bringer of light into a world that is still too dark for so many less fortunate than ourselves. Check your heart this Christmas, is it a welcoming one? Then take the next step, seeking out a way to make that welcome a reality for someone in need of ....."