The Christmas story reminds us of our responsibilities to the most vulnerable in society, says the Bishop of St Asaph in his 2015 Christmas message. Drawing comparisons between the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt and today’s refugees fleeing acts of war in different parts of the world, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron urges people to remember the homeless and refugees, the weak and defenceless in north Wales, and those for whom Christmas is a misery.
You can read the full text of Bishop Gregory’s message here:
A neglected part of the Christmas story is “The Flight into Egypt”. We remember it when prompted of course. King Herod has discovered that a new-born baby has a possible claim to be the true King of Israel, and acts decisively to wipe out the threat; all children under the age of two in Bethlehem are to be removed. The father is given a tip off, and the holy family flee.
Although we only know this story from Matthew’s Gospel, it fits with what we know of Herod, who was a brutal monarch, not afraid to commit atrocities to keep hold of power. It’s a familiar pattern in today’s world, as well: for Herod, read ISIS or Assad. Pray for those who may be tempted down the paths of Herod: Palestinians and Israelis, like us all, can find it all too easy still to attack the vulnerable members of their enemy’s communities in an effort to feel secure.
Take a hard look at the Holy Family, and we might be sceptical of these migrants. A teenage mother with her boyfriend and baby, leaving a town in which they’d been squatting in a local stable, who flee to the fleshpots of Egypt, even though they seem to be carrying expensive contraband goods like gold, frankincense and myrrh in their belongings.
God is the most helpless one in the story: he’s the little baby, mute, unable to defend himself, a victim, suffering the first of many griefs to be borne in his earthly life.
Christmas should be a time when we become sensitive to the resonances of the Christmas story. What about the homeless and refugees of our own day? How much does Bethlehem need our prayers, with a wall dividing communities, both under threat? What about the weak and defenceless in north Wales, and those for whom Christmas is a misery on our own doorstep?
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And all the world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Yes, but what are you doing to hasten the days of God’s Kingdom of justice, truth and inclusion?