Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

In 1946 or thereabouts, my father bought a nativity set in Bethlehem, or Jerusalem, where he was an RAF chaplain conducting moral training for the forces. He brought it home, and it was put up every Christmas in our home. We've inherited it, and it still goes up every Christmas time, one-eared donkey and all.
There's a certain appropriateness about it being 64 years old, because that was the time of radical Zionist action for Israeli independence. And yet, as the Pope pointed out in today's "Thought for the Day", it was not for that sort of freedom that Jesus was born. He came into a context when the people were looking for the promised messiah to bring them political freedom. "God is always faithful to His promises, but He often surprises us in the way He fulfils them."

There is a page on Facebook today, headed "The Nativity - thank you BBC and Tony Jordan". I clicked on "Like". Last night was the final episode of the four-part serial, The Nativity, and it was a fitting and touching climax. I know some of my friends are miffed by the infidelities to the Biblical narrative, but in my view there's far more positive to it than negative, especially in understanding it as a human story, with the full divine revelation being reserved for the last few minutes. As someone has commented, it's not evangelism; that's not the BBC's job. But they did a good job in making a story which people think they know come alive. I guess it's Christians who need to spell out what it means today.

And so, I conclude by wishing you a very happy Christmas, with a shot from the series and a sentence from Pope Benedict's message this morning
From the BBC website
"Out of love for us He took upon Himself our human condition of fragility, our vulnerability, and opened up to us the path that leads to fullness of life, to share the life of God Himself." 

Not bad for a Christmas present! Emmanuel, thank you for the Nativity.


  1. On the wall of my den is a Crucifix marked "Jerusalem" which came from there and was given to me many years ago by the first Chaplain to the Forces, Revd "Pooh" Cocking - I don't think it's as old as your Crib but it serves the same purpose. I thought the Pope spoke very well - nothing to which any branch of the Church could complain (in fact I often which that .... oh, never mind: it's Christmas!). I remember the horror in St Denys when you described God as "Daddy" - I hope he will bless you and your family in the years ahead.

  2. A good prayer - that your Christmas wish comes true! I remember the shock too! He's been a pretty reliable Father since then. Thank you.