Bishop Colin Campbell of Dunedin has sent a very sobering Christmas card this year.
It features a painting of Mary and Joseph being turned away from the inn at Bethlehem, alongside a photo that shocked the world in September, 2015, showing the body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi which was washed ashore in Turkey. He, and his 5-year-old brother, and his mother, drowned trying to flee the conflict in Syria.
The Christmas card quotes from the Gospel of John: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
Christmas reminds us of God’s love: “He gave his only Son.”
And his Son surprised everyone by sneaking as a helpless newborn baby into what really was enemy territory. No one expected the Messiah to arrive like this. But within weeks King Herod was seeking to destroy him.
Christmas challenges us to reflect deeply on who Jesus is, and on why he is still seen as such a threat by the powerful.
Our most secularised first-world societies still measure time as BC, Before Christ, or AD, Anno Domini, in the Year of the Lord. The baby born in Bethlehem has had a lasting effect on the history of humanity.
We who love and honour him as the Son of God must never forget his core teaching: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers or sisters, that you do to me.”
- Bishop Patrick Dunn