Wednesday, 30 November 2016


December 2016

Some people are missing.  The shepherds are all in place with their tea-towel head-dresses and their soft-toy sheep, three kings with gold card crowns are waiting off-stage for their cue, the innkeepers are ready with their unwelcoming replies, and Joseph and Mary and the pantomime donkey are approaching.  But shouldn’t Herod’s soldiers be here somewhere, brandishing swords with which to carry out the terrible massacre of the young boys in Bethlehem? 

We understand why they are usually left out of the story in children’s nativity plays.  (Perhaps we need some adult versions too!)  But there are good reasons not to forget that the soldiers are very definitely part of the story in Matthew’s Gospel.

Firstly, they reconnect the sugary child’s version with the world that we really live in and that Jesus was really born into.  Tragically, children are all too often the victims of the self-centred actions of adults – whether caught in the crossfire of warring militias, caught in the crossfire of warring parents, or discarded before they are even born.

Secondly, the soldiers remind us that the violence of our world was directed against Jesus Christ himself.  From Herod’s attempt to kill him at birth, to the Jewish leaders’ later death plots and the Roman authorities’ collusion with their wishes, Jesus Christ was in the firing line.

In fact, Jesus came into our world knowing full well that this would happen, that the whole world would oppose him and crush him and that he would absorb in his own body all the guilt and the horrifying  consequences of our hostility towards him and his Father .

Amazingly, Jesus, knowing how we would treat him, still came. 

Wonderfully, the Father did not consult us (there was no referendum or presidential election) when he decided that Jesus should then prevail over his opponents and be installed as the permanent ruler of the whole world:

“Unto us a boy is born!
King of all creation,
came he to a world forlorn,
the Lord of every nation,
the Lord of every nation.”

You will be warmly welcome at any of our services, at Christmas or at any other time.

Happy Christmas!

Graham Burrows

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