SOMEWHERE buried in the melée of this season are phrases like Son of God, Prince of Peace and Saviour; these look like claims of a religious group, but appearances can be deceptive, they are part of a very human story.
If you make a story the property of a religious group that’s the quickest way to rob it of its power, and assure lots of people that it has got nothing to do with them.
In this past two years I have visited homes where an increasing number of people in Evesham have begun to struggle to provide the basics of ordinary living.
We live in a nation where the gap between rich and poor is almost as big as it has ever been – it’s an old story.
The manor houses of the wealthy of bygone days still boast their wealth, while peasants’ huts have long since decayed.
On each large estate the wealthy would build a church, so that their workers knew, Sunday by Sunday, that this way of life was written in the heavens.
Son of God, Prince of Peace and Saviour were catch-phrases for wealth and power. In the first century, they were titles for Augustus Caesar, everyone knew that.
Caesar claimed that heaven had set him above all others, and the poor of the empire were destined to keep his elites in their comfortable lifestyles.
A movement began in that same century, of people who gathered around a God who reached out to the poor. They shared food, when you signed-up you joined as an equal.
It was started by a labourer who preached God-for-everyone whose world is a gift in which everyone is entitled to eat. He ended up being executed by an imperial court. But this did not stop the spread of the idea of a God who lifted up the lowly and exalted the humble.
When his story was told, writers claimed this is what a God looks like, this is what a God should do for us.
And they stole Caesar’s titles: Son of God, Prince of Peace, Saviour, subverted them, gave them new meaning.
Christmas is a time to find God, not in celebrity magazines, but in the pub or the bingo hall. This is why Christmas is good news, Christmas says that the world doesn’t have to be this way.
Rev Andrew Spurr
Vicar of Evesham