All of the central characters in the story of the birth of Jesus have their lives turned upside down. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds in the field, Herod in his palace, everyone has their sense of security and certainty upset by the way in which God intervenes in history through the birth of Jesus.
While Christmas is a time of some routine and predictability – full of the things we ‘always’ do at Christmas; at its heart lies an immense disruption. This is the disruption by which people are set free and shaken from the sense that everything has to be the way it has always been. This freedom comes in the midst of constraint. For the convenience of Rome, Jesus is born where he is, as his parents, like tiny insects swept away by a flood, are made to travel to register where the Romans tell them to.
The gospels tell of specific lives and places used by God as a means of changing forever the nature of our relationship with God and with one another.
The dusty, overlooked town on the far side of the Roman empire where Jesus is born is a place where God does a great and wonderful thing that is located in our human identity. And it is a place where we receive a message of what God has done and an inspiration to share that message as the shepherds did. The message is that nowhere is unimportant or forgotten, everywhere is touched by the power of God. God is endlessly doing something new in our world and in our lives until we grow into his fullness. May this Christmas season be for you a time of sensing that plan and purpose at work in your world.
Dean of Newcastle