In previous years I have often led the all-age scratch nativity breakfast ‘service’ in our local village hall, but this morning I sat back and enjoyed simply being one of the congregation. We had been invited to come dressed as characters from the story, or to bring a soft toy animal, or just to come along without bringing anything! Year on year the number of people who choose to spend the Sunday morning before Christmas sharing breakfast together and then retelling the nativity story grows and grows.
Here are two shepherds, a donkey and a wise man. There was also a pig, but that photo did not come out so well – and I do wonder whether there would have been pigs in the stable in Bethlehem?
This afternoon Ken and I went out to one of the smaller village chapels in our circuit, where we reflected again on the nativity story. We considered the fact that when we were introduced to the story as children, the account of the birth of Jesus probably felt rather comforting. As we grow older the reality of that event, the birth of a baby in an animal stall in Roman-occupied Bethlehem feels less comfortable, and more akin to the scenes we are witnessing of refugee families across the world at the moment.
As we sang traditional and more contemporary carols this afternoon, and listened again to the familiar story, we were encouraged to look beyond the immediate story to the hope of our faith, the God to whom Mary, Joseph and the shepherds responded and said ‘yes’.
I was particularly moved by a slightly more modern carol this afternoon, as we sang these words:
Born in the night, Mary’s child,
a long way from your home:
coming in need, Mary’s child,
born in a borrowed room.