Honest Christianity – not a sanitised, silent Christmas


At the hospital this year we used a sketch based on the carol Silent Night.  It pointed out that with all those animals around it was unlikely to be quiet! It struck me listening to the story again this morning, that the stable was also unlikely to be clean – unlike the straw in our church where the animals were stuffed not real!  I wonder if we would have an image of a less sanitised God if we thought about Jesus being born amongst piles of dung? I wonder if we thought of our God being comfortable amongst such surroundings?

This is a forerunner of the God I need in my life today, a God comfortable to live within the crap life brings.  This is the kind of God I need Jesus to grow into, someone who stays close to their roots. I need a God who knows what it is to live in a family where life does not always go to plan. This is the hope for all of us, in whatever kind of poverty we find ourselves.  For some the poverty is material, for others it may be emotional or spiritual or social and there is often not an instant solution.  As God’s people we can seek to get alongside those who are experiencing such poverty and perhaps bring a glimmer of hope that life may be different in the future.

Theologians have reflected that the Magi brought gifts that reflected the status and journey Jesus was going to have.  As a joke, I think it might have been more simple, they brought sensible gifts – the myrrh was to take away the terrible smell in the stable, but it was still full of crap!  While scholars may dispute exactly when and where Jesus was born and the Magi visited what is clear is that there was a lot of crap around the time of his birth and his early years when, as we heard in today’s gospel reading, Herod wanted to kill him.

I don’t want to sanitise my life to bring it to God, I want to be able to be real and share the crap as well as the joy and the beauty.


3 thoughts on “Honest Christianity – not a sanitised, silent Christmas

  1. I have often struggled with the words of the carol ‘Silent Night ‘for exactly the reasons that you have put. Along with some other carols (maybe like ‘Away in a Manger’) they seem to paint such a false idealic picture. I think this is a real danger where people are more and more learning their theology from songs rather than scripture. Maybe reflecting on them deeper, the words are true from a heavenly perspective as it was what God had planned but so many people are put off church bcos they feel they don’t fit in or that they aren’t good enough. I am sure that this Christmas has been a silent time for many people…a silence made even more painful by the absence of Jesus in their lifes. But Christmas wasn’t and shudn’t be quiet. I think it would be great at Christmas to have a ‘stable’ in church full of crap (both the sort that would have been where Jesus was born and the crap that that life brings). I wonder how people would react?

    I much prefer your reflection on the gifts the magi brought…best to keep it simple!

    I think we can all learn alot from the Christmas story but not necesarily in the way it is so often portrayed. To me there is a much stronger link to the suffering we hear of at Easter than people normally make. I think you both do a great job of being real and sharing the crap life brings as well as the joy and the beauty. The few times in life that I have attemped to have the level of openess and honesy that you share doors have been slamed in my face bcos ‘church’ dusn’t want to hear about crap. I havealot of respect for what you are doing here. Thank you for providing a place where people are encouraged to be real and for helping bring hope back into my life.

  2. Just a short piece of bad poetry that formed in my mind last night and links in with this post!

    Not a very Silent Night!

    We sing songs like Silent Night
    But surely that wasn’t quite the sight?
    Imagine all the animals gathered there.
    The noise and smell was probably hard to bear.

    A cow who goes
    to her troff to be fed,
    And finds herself greated,
    by a baby insted!

    Mice scurry about
    upon the dusty floor.
    The hinges creak
    on the broken door.

    Is this the place
    for a|King to be born?
    Surronded by crap
    as he woke that morn.

    Maybe this isn’t
    the story pepal want to be told?
    So they decorate it with tinsil
    and only remember the gold.

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