|Minister's Letter - December 2015|
|Rev Peter Cornick|
|Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of Herod the king. Matthew 2: 1
Jesus was born during a Roman census – his parents were forced to trek miles to Joseph’s ancestral town, just to register the family’s existence. Rome ruled and no-one dared step out of line. Herod, the self styled ‘King of the Jews’, governed by fear, brutality and spies, his personal power maintained by keeping both Rome and the Jewish authorities happy. The Jewish religion was tolerated but anything out of the ordinary would risk testing that toleration.
God chose to appear on Earth at this most unstable and unforgiving time; as a baby, a prince of peace, a Messiah who would be the ‘King of the Jews’. How could a child be a threat? How could this boy bring peace to a troubled world? How could a baby born in a cow shed in an obscure town become a King? At his birth and at the time of his death, Jesus, through the means of peace, through declaring God’s favour for the poor, the bereaved and the marginalised, challenged local kings, religious leaders and Rome. Would they see a different way of living?
The Christmas story challenges our present world which is one of fear, brutality, revenge and war. We might feel powerless in the face of world events. We are appalled at random acts of violence in Paris and elsewhere; we hope for justice and better security. Yet perhaps we feel deeply uncomfortable with the violent reaction; an escalation of regional conflict; the cost to the lives of countless civilians.
As I reflect on the Christmas story, in a time of turmoil and terror, God invites the world to fall on its knees and worship a baby. In the Christ child is found vulnerability, peace and promise. The world needs the birth of the Christ child today as much as it did when Jesus was born, in the town of Bethlehem.