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 Viewpoint from Rev John Kinchin-Smith 16/12/2016

JOHN KINCHIN-SMITHRev John Kinchin-Smith
Rural Dean of Great Yarmouth Deanery

 also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury

Most of us will see a manger scene at some point over the Christmas period, either in the cribs in church, on Christmas cards, or in school nativity plays. But how many of us will make the connections with everyday life?

Think of the shepherds, for example, poor rural working folk - no prospects, low income, and harsh conditions. This addresses the harsh ethical and economic realities of the workplace and speaks to all who face a bleak or boring future or an empty retirement
dove leftThe animals in the stable were traditionally an ox and an ass, not cuddly pets but working animals. They speak to us of the truly important issues of rural life today: poverty and isolation, low incomes, high unemployment, struggling farms, poor public services, the closure of schools, shops and post-offices, lack of transport
Then there are Mary, probably a teenager, and Joseph, who will be stepfather to Mary’s child. This speaks to every broken family and home. Add to this the squalor of the setting of the child’s birth and we see the situation of the world’s poorest people
One could go on to speak of those strange wise men with their eyes on the stars, reminding us of all those who look for hope or meaning in ‘new age’ or occult ways, yet who found their inner yearning finally satisfied in a small child; or of the wrath of king Herod forcing the family to become refugees, reminding us of the harsh realities faced by so many in other parts of the world
Dove rightSuch was the setting of the birth of Jesus. And yet the birth was attended by glory, too. Above the hills surrounding the small town of Bethlehem we are told that the sky was briefly lit by awesome light, armies of angels and heavenly music. For this was how God chose to come to the children of his creation, not avoiding their misery and hopelessness, but coming right down into it in order to share it and to make a difference
Whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, however hopeless or grave our situation or that of the world appears to be, the Christmas story connects if we have eyes to see. For somehow in that manger scene, lying in straw, is revealed the answer to every condition of life, every yearning of the heart, every cry of brokenness and despair