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Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

Suella Braverman and the Meaning of Christmas

Wed, 22/11/2023 - 16:01


From The Rectory


The recently sacked Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, caused controversy, amongst other things, by Tweeting (are we meant to call it X-ing, now?) that: “The British people are compassionate. We will always support those who are genuinely homeless. But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.”

The Matt cartoon in The Daily Telegraph quipped that the message in Suella Braverman’s Christmas Card might say that “being born in a stable is a lifestyle choice”. I think Christians would agree!   


Luke’s gospel tells us that the Emperor Augustus had issued a decree that a census should be taken. So Joseph and his betrothed, Mary, had gone from their town of Nazareth in Galilee to register in Bethlehem, the town which great King David of old had been from, because Joseph was of the house and line of David. While they were there, Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. But the circumstances of Jesus’ birth were more than the result of historical accidents. The Bible sees them as the fulfilment of God’s plan and of the prophecies that the long-promised Rescuer-King would be born in Bethlehem, the city of his ancestor King David.


In a sense, the Son of God could have remained in heaven without blame. But for him to be born in a stable was a lifestyle choice. He came to our broken world and shared our mess that he might be our Saviour. The Bible says that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to cling on to but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being found in human likeness. He did not leave the glory of heaven for a splendid earthly palace. As the Carol says, a stable-place sufficed for the Lord God Almighty Jesus Christ. The Bread of Life was placed in an animal’s feeding trough. Eventually he would die on the cross in our place that our sins might be forgiven.


As another hymn addressed to the Lord Jesus puts it:


Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour, All for love's sake becamest poor; Thrones for a manger didst surrender, Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour, All for love's sake becomes poor.


Indeed, John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Literally he pitched his tent, or tabernacled amongst us. In Old Testament times, when God’s people were travelling through the desert to the promised land, they worshiped God in a tent, The Tabernacle. And during his earthly ministry, Jesus was an embodied Tabernacle, a kind of mobile walking talking Temple. Jesus was the place to go to meet with God, where the glory of God was revealed. Jesus’ own body would be the place of sacrifice by which sinners like me and you could come into the presence of a holy God.   


Soon Jesus and his family would be refugees as they fled from the murderous King Herod to the safety of Egypt. Later, speaking of himself, Jesus would say: ““Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus was made homeless and chose to dwell in the tent of human flesh that we might come home to God.


The Revd Marc Lloyd

Marc Lloyd
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