This Christmas I will be thinking about the story of the appearance in Palestine 2,000 years ago of a child whose situation then speaks to ours today, and is indicative of how the good news of God's love bringing peace and goodwill to mankind can be heralded and lived in the face of adversity.
In what we call the Incarnation, God chose to indwell the 'divine self' within fragile humanity. The eternal (logos) Word became one of and with us in Jesus. As a baby, Jesus though God in human flesh: had to be taken into exile for safety; was not believed in by his own family; was denied by one friend who had pledged loyalty; was betrayed with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver; was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of (ironically) blasphemy; was crucified at the tender age of 33; was buried in a borrowed tomb.
And yet rose triumphantly from the dead after three days. However while Jesus lived on earth he performed miracles, trained and commissioned the apostles, and started a movement that in spite of many rumours of its demise continues to grow 2,000 years later committed to spreading Jesus's simple but profound message of redemptions: love, peace, goodwill and flourishing to all humankind. So as we in the materially comfortable Western world celebrate Christmas 2014 with all the trappings of our affluence, may we remember the vulnerable, the disowned, the denied, the betrayed, the falsely accused and wrongly convicted, those whose lives are threatened and those whose lives have been taken.
Christmas reminds us that in the midst of adversity miracles happen, seeds are sown that will bear fruit in years to come, and Jesus' message of peace for all still rings out. In the end good overcomes evil, the dead are resurrected, against the odds the vulnerable baby survives to rule the world. Merry Christmas!
Bishop Joe Aldred is a broadcaster, ecumenist and speaker and is responsible for Pentecostal and multicultural relations at Churches Together in England