Today many celebrate Jesus’ birth. In some form of space-time continuum we may see both Jesus as a babe, with parents lovingly gazing at the crib, the Shepherds admiring the Christ-child and already the Magi have arrived – albeit 2 or 3 years early. Perhaps we here can see both ‘times’ as one. Dr Who would be pleased!
In the last month we have journeyed with a number of individuals. Firstly we heard of Elizabeth and Zechariah, joyous with the news of their child who was named John. We have heard of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph as they travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Then the Shepherds and the Magi from afar, Persia or perhaps even India?
This year we too have journeyed. We have seen the emergence of a very nationalistic opinion, denying others a human right to accommodation, even dignity. Those refugees from Syria, desperate for a life away from the endless fighting, running from buildings destroyed by nations eager to gain power in that region, are pushed from country to country: “there’s no room” appears a common call.
The birth of Christ as a babe denotes vulnerability, for surely a King, a Saviour, would come with celebration, with majesty but here tucked away in the back streets of Bethlehem, in a manger, there is that small child. A very good discussion about the manger or kataluma is here from Ian Paul. One thing is clearly evident, there is no pomp just a birth amidst the animals. Soon they will flee and, resonating so much more strongly with those refugees, become one with them. Christ with us.
Where are we in the scene of the Nativity?
Banksy might see our Christmas combined with the never ending “January” Sales. When was the last time we had a January sale starting in January?? Here Christ crucified carries the shopping bags, full and decorated with ribbons. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Catholic Cardinal have both today said that as Christians we should see hope rather than fear. During a recent visit to the Birmingham Shelter team I was told that Christmas brings joy to many families as they receive support from this wonderful organisation; however, post Christmas Shelter see a rise in the need for support as the bills for presents arrive. This may apply for many of us.
Do we flit by the side of the Nativity scene, barely having time to glimpse the wonder of the birth?
If Christmas is to bring hope then surely the focus needs to be not of giving expensive gifts, especially in these times of austerity, but of time. Sainsbury’s brought this message to us so clearly this year in their Christmas Advert (https://vimeo.com/191464885)
Recalling one who formulated the notion of absolute time, I was reminded today that Isaac Newton was also born on Christmas Day and I was intrigued by a quote by deGrasse Tyson, offered below:
”On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec. 25, 1642.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson
Well today, across the world, many are celebrating Jesus’ birth who by a similar age would transform the world and still does.
So as we can see both babe and magi in the same Nativity scene, possibly here we can also see that as we celebrate Christmas Day, an occasion occurring 2 millenia ago, we also see God here on Earth – now.
To quote the Archbishop of York:
“In the midst of uncertainty.., I can testify to the fact that God will never leave us or forsake us. God will always show us a way.”