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You’ve probably heard that some Christian churches in Jerusalem have officially canceled their typical Christmas celebrations. And you can perhaps understand why. In solidarity with the current suffering of children in Gaza in particular, their idea is that celebrating Christmas in the typical way seems somehow inappropriate this year.

We’re not doing that here, of course, but here’s the thing to remember in the middle of our Christmas cheer, whatever form it may take for us: The story of the birth of Jesus across our two accounts in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, and embedded in John’s theological statement about who Jesus is, the story of the birth of Jesus is the story of a child born to a poor Jewish family made to leave their home on account of a census ordered by the emperor. The story of the birth of Jesus is the story of no guest room for them in Bethlehem, and so the birth has to take place in an animal stall. The story of the birth of Jesus is a story heard first by a group of poor shepherds out in their field, whose stunned reaction, despite their situation, is one of pure, unadulterated joy. The story of the birth of Jesus is the story of a group of soldiers who, shortly after his birth, are ordered to find him and to do him harm, resulting in his entire family having to flee from those who are after them.

And so, in the midst of our celebrations, let’s remember that in the Word become flesh, the holy child of God is all children – those right next to us and those who are suffering all the way across the world, in Gaza, in Israel, in the Sudan, and in many, many other places. And so love your children, hug your family, even those you don’t agree with, and find some way, some small way, to help the children in our area and in the wider world who need our help right now. You’ll see on the screen at the last some ways to do this.

My very best wishes to you, to your family, and to your community on Christmas.

Christmas 2023: A Message from Bishop Skelton

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