The Bishop of St Davids reflects on the turbulence of the nativity and the days that followed – and sees lessons for us to learn in the present.
“As we approach once more the celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it is good to remember, amongst all the tinsel and Christmas trees, how tumultuous it really was.
“While his arrival in the family room of a private house amongst the animals rather than in the guest room, was not quite as dramatic as our traditional nativity stories tell it, it was certainly not as the new parents would have planned.
“Neither was it what any of us might have designed ourselves for the birth of “the Word made flesh.” As St Luke tells it, the only people to whom the birth of the Son of God was announced was to a group of shepherds, people fairly near the bottom of the social ladder of their day.
“They rejoiced and glorified God when they found the baby in the manger. In St Matthew’s account, it is a party of foreigners who literally read the message in the stars and turned the court of King Herod upside down with the news they brought.
“The strangers pressed on to find the new born king, to do him honour and present him with gifts, while Herod sent troops to kill him. In the ensuing turmoil, Joseph, Mary and Jesus made their escape into Egypt and Jesus began his life as a refugee: in our terms, an asylum seeker.
“Let us remember that without his welcome in a foreign land, the redeeming and reconciling work of Jesus could have been brought to an end before it began.
“As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us remember the strangers and refugees in our midst, those who have come to our shores to find sanctuary and a new life and let us have the courage to find in the stranger a welcome friend.”