the nativity that needs saving

5 01 2014

Tabloid journalists wouldn’t have written good gospels. They’d have used up all the scroll just on the birth. See Prince George for evidence.

The gospel writers had loads of information and stories to work from, and they carefully chose which ones to use. And surpisingly, there’s no lingering over the holy birth. There’s no embellishments – no stables or donkeys; no silent nights, no ‘no crying he makes’; no angelic music or soft mood lighting. Jesus doesn’t perform miracles or speak early, he doesn’t fashion blackbirds from clay. No halo is painted over his head at his birth.

Why not? Because they were telling a real story about a world that needs saving. And the Christmas card nativity scene we propagate at Christmas doesn’t need saving. You know, the one where  the cows smile and the hay doesn’t itch and the King of the Jews doesn’t kill all the babies.

Take the visit of the magi. It can be easy to view the visit of the magi with rose-tinted spectacles. But they show us the kind of world Jesus came to save. A world in which people will do all they can not to be humble, not to kneel, but to defend their position at all costs. For Herod – the King of the Jews – that meant following in Pharaoh’s footsteps and ordering the murder of babies to protect his power.

The soft-glow world of nativity plays doesn’t need saving from anything except bland irrelevance. A world in which children are used as the pawns in grown-ups power games does need saving. That is still our world.

Of course we civilised people look down our noses at the primitive cruelty of Herod. We wouldn’t sacrifice children for our own ends these days would we? Oh, except child soldiers. Child labour. Child sex trade and child abuse pornography. Child poverty. Child refugees. To name but a few.

Epiphany is the story of the foreigners being the first to worship the King of the Jews who did not clutch his equality with God like a selfish toddler but gave it up for us; whilst the King of the Jews cruelly clutches his power with his vicious murderous mandate of death. All of a sudden the soft-glow nativity becomes a very dark story about our cruel world and it’s cruel people and people who suffer for no reason other than the cruelty of others.

For so many it really is that Christmas every day. That’s a nativity that needs saving.   

 

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2 responses

5 01 2014
Julie

Very thought provoking. Thank you.

6 01 2014
c2drl

Ever since the enlightenment we have been in denial about the reality of evil in the world. We somehow think man can eliminate evil, a la George Bush and Tony Blair. We can’t although ultimately Jesus has. Our response to evil, whether it has been done to children, or the sick or the elderly or even to gods creation, needs to be sacrificial not authoritarian. Giving of our time and energy and spirit until there is no more, holding nothing back for ourselves. And where do we find the inspiration and succour for that sacrificial love? In the real nativity which you outline, and in the sequal the crucifixion.

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