We are always delighted to welcome people to our worship at St. Andrew’s, whether as residents or visitors, and especially at this captivating time of year when we ponder the what we call “the mystery of the incarnation”. God chose to be own part of His own creation and entered the world as a fragile, totally dependent baby. We sing traditional and familiar songs (carols) which tell of that birth that changed the world and the promise with it.
One very famous song tells of the town where Christ was born. As we sing with hushed tones “O little town of Bethlehem” it can take on an almost magical quality. However we are in danger of sugar coating and sentimentalising the whole event. The context in which Jesus was born was neither cosy nor warm nor safe. There was no rosy glow. Jesus was born into an occupied city with menacing threats of a brutal and merciless regime.
This is still the current state of Bethlehem. The descendants of Jesus’ first followers, the Palestinian Christians, are often overlooked and unheard in the political chaos of Palestine today. In particular, in light of Donald Trumps proposal to recognise Jerusalem as the capital city of the Stare of Israel , we experience more colonial domination and provocation that can threaten not just regional but global stability.
We desperately need the peace and humility of that Christ child. Our world desperately needs it. As we celebrate our Christmas it would be disingenuous of us to sing a fairy tale of unreality. We are called to address injustice and corruption wherever they may be found, but here, at this time of the year, we must pray for our brothers and sisters of this famous little town and I invite you to do so in alternative words to the carol reproduced here below.
For those who can physically attend the services In church we will still sing the original words but everyone will be given a copy of these words which I invite you to reflect upon. All eyes of every faith and none are once again focussed on this tiny town of such huge significance.
This Christmastide and throughout the coming New Year may you all and the world in which we live know the peace and humility of the Christ child born in that stable.
Revd. Wendy Hough, Chaplain
St. Andrew’s Church