(Because I didn’t do an Advent post for the third week of Advent, take this for last week and tomorrow!)
Christmas and Advent can often present quite a sanitised view of the incarnation, and carols bear a large part of the responsibility for that (‘no crying he makes’ – have they never seen an episode of Call the Midwife? ‘Christian children all must be, mild, obedient, good as he’ – apart from the one story we have of Jesus as a child features him disobeying Mary and running off…) – because of that, it’s easy to focus on the birth of Jesus as just a nice story, perfect for children’s Nativity plays (I say this as someone who loves them!) where the main purpose is to look cute and sing Away in the Manger, and omit the Slaughter of the Innocents – although anyone who has seen the second best Christmas film, Nativity!, probably agrees that’s for the best… I think that scene is almost as traumatising as Ring of Bright Water or Watership Down.
Christmas isn’t safe though – childbirth isn’t always safe, travelling isn’t always safe, and angry leaders trying desperately to cling onto power are certainly not safe. The presents and the turkey (unless you choke on a bone, I suppose, or are force fed sprouts) are safer and easier, but as families have the choice between staying in war zones and risking being stranded in camps or drowning at sea, or even being separated and detained, I think it can be important to remember that God is standing, was standing and will stand in solidarity with people all over the world, whatever their circumstances.