Shame the simplicity of true Christmas message is lost, says Sheffield minister

Waiting for our dinner at a Chinese takeaway, a man came along and I noticed he wasn’t wearing a mask.

Sunday, 20th December 2020, 12:30 pm
The traditional Nativity scene, featuring Jesus being laid in a manger, in a stable

He clarified the matter when he explained my wife shouldn’t wear the paper masks as they are worse than asbestos and she was killing herself.

Why not wear a cloth mask, I wondered. This was also cleared up as he went on to explain the virus was only a political virus which would only be caught by watching the BBC.

I thought to myself, the babe in the manger came to save, we are sending people to the grave.

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The Reverend Peter McCool

The Christian faith, like every other group in humanity, has traditions.

Of course, we make the manger scene sanitised and pretty.

For example, we assume Jesus was born in a stable because the Bible is clear He was laid in a manger, a trough for feeding animals. He may well have been born in a small cave, or the under level of a house, where animals were also fed. We don’t know, so have an assumption and nice tradition.

Likewise, we complete the scene with the Wise Men visiting Jesus.

Indeed, they did. There is strong indication this visit came sometime after his birth.

But the point of the Christmas story is simple.

God came into the world in the form of a baby.

There was no room for Him at the inn.

He announced the news to the unlikely and unloved.

He reached out to all walks of society with a message of love, grace, mercy, peace on earth and goodwill for all.

Isn’t it a shame Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year and yet the simplicity of this message has been lost?

It is lost in the human need to drag others down, point fingers and do our best to find fault with, and insult opinion or ideals we may not agree with.

Jesus was born and laid in a manger, He grew, helped and healed, fed and loved everyone he came across. He died on a cross for everyone.

He taught tolerance and peace, we celebrate his birthday at our traditional time of the year, while ignoring his message, having a very real lack of tolerance for others and managing to make his simple instructions to achieve peace difficult to follow because of our own complications.

The babe born in the stable knows the way, He lights the way, He is the way.

Let our damaging prejudices go, trust in the light of the world, or, at the very least, allow peace on earth by showing tolerance for other people’s traditions and beliefs.

The Reverend Peter McCool is pastor at South Sheffield Church, Greenhill Parkway Lower Bradway – see southsheffieldchurch.co.uk