Joy to the world – the Lord has come!

This Christmas people in every part of the world are facing very serious difficulties. The continuing war in Ukraine is inflicting great suffering on ordinary people who are facing very cold winter weather without heating and water. Many families also feel deeply the loss of loved ones who have died in the war. People in Afghanistan who had tasted freedom now live under an oppressive regime. The authorities in Iran are cracking down of those protesting against the repression of women. Some protesters are being executed. Argentina won the FIFA World Cup 2022, but the nation is facing a grave economic crisis with a currency crisis and price inflation at nearly 90%.

When Jesus was born his people were suffering under tyrannical rulers. They were living under Roman occupation. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, had commanded that a census be undertaken of the entire Roman with a view to imposing additional taxation. Everyone was commanded to return to their ancestral home, so Joseph and Mary left Nazareth in Galilee to travel to Bethlehem, the city of David, because Joseph was descended from him. The journey was difficult because Mary was in the late stages of her pregnancy. Bethlehem was crowded so Jesus was born in a stable. Soon after he was born King Herod tried to kill him, so Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Egypt for safety. In an attempt to kill Jesus Herod ordered all little boys under 2 years of age in Bethlehem to be slaughtered.

The coming of Jesus, the eternal Son of God, tells us that God sees and knows all that is done in his world. He cares for the poor and powerless and will ensure that justice is done. He holds wicked people accountable for their evil deeds. Before Jesus was born Mary spoke of him and the gracious kingdom he would inaugurate: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

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