Merry Christmas, and a hopeful new year

Here's to all the little kids
 Who haven't got no clothes
 Here's to all the little kids
 Who haven't got no homes
 It's Christmas time in Palestine
 It's Christmas in Beirut
 They're scrapping 'round for rice
 Not for tutti fruits
             Shane McGowan 
             Christmas Lullaby


It’s Christmas again, and whatever the year has brought, it shudders to a halt for the last week. Which gives everyone a chance to catch up with family, time for reflection, and a much needed break from the busyness of our normal lives. In some ways, it seems a bit like the biblical nativity story of Mary and Joseph trekking it out to Bethlehem – hitching south-west to my hometown I met all kinds of people who are on the same journey, back to places and people they rarely see to celebrate Christmas together.

I think a lot about the biblical story of Christmas this time of year. Of course we are surrounded with the Christmas carol or nativity display version; but the story, like any story, is more nuanced.

This year I’ve been thinking about the Jewish people, who for 400 years had been living under the burden of…

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