Views from the Pews: Mary and Joseph were refugees

st stephens church, robin hoods bay
st stephens church, robin hoods bay

‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa La La La, La La La La.

I’m sure we will be singing the above line at least once during this festive season – probably far more than once especially if there are youngsters in the family.

However, sometimes Christmas itself can feel less than jolly, with all the pressures to provide presents for the whole family, including the latest gadgets for children and grandchildren, enough food to sink a ship, and also all the other excesses that Christmas may bring.

For many, the hangover after Christmas is not caused by the excess sherry left out for Father Christmas but by the need to pay for all of the expense that has been incurred.

For others, the jollities that others enjoy at this festive time contrast strongly with the sadness and absences in their lives, a loved one no longer here, an inability to afford even the basics yet alone the luxuries or some other deep cause of distress.

That first Christmas was not like that, of course. In so many ways its humility has been far overlooked by the modern traditions that we now celebrate.

Yes, there were presents brought by the wise men, and these were very extravagant given the lowly status and place where Jesus was born.

These were symbols of who Jesus was and who he was to become. The joyful birth of a child made even more joyous by the knowledge that God had come to earth.

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that after the visit of the wise men, Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus had to flee to Egypt for their safety, spending a number of years there in hiding. In other words they were refugees, fleeing the tyrannical behaviour of Herod – something which has much resonance this year in the light of the current refugee crisis.

So whatever you do to celebrate this Christmas, let us remember those who are less fortunate, those who struggle to put food on the table and presents in the stocking, and those who live such poor lives that we find it hard to imagine. And let us spare something for them as well as for us this Christmas time.

May I wish you all a very happy and joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year.

• What do you think? Has the true message of Christmas been forgotten? Share your views by sending a letter to with your name and address.