Unwelcome Others

Christmas reframes the divide over abortion and refugees
Justine Toh

The Christmas nativity story is often regarded sentimentally, but it shines a light onto the controversies we’ve witnessed this year, for Jesus is both unplanned baby and refugee on the run. Mary gives birth in a manger because she and Joseph have nowhere else to go. In Matthew’s account of events, the young parents must flee to Egypt with baby Jesus in tow, since Herod will tolerate no rivals to his throne and has ordered the death of boys born at the time of Christ. It seems tragicomic that such is the parlous state of the welcome we extend to others that, according to the story, when God visits us in the form of Jesus’ vulnerable flesh, there’s no room for him to be born in our midst and his parents are soon on the run to preserve his life.

Given the mess we’ve made of the world, you’d expect that when God draws near to humankind, he would come with vengeance on his mind. But this most surprising, uninvited guest comes in peace. Though made unwelcome, he seeks to welcome us all indiscriminately. He invites us to experience “life to the full” (John 10:10) – and not in a way that draws distinctions as to which life is worth preserving.

Written at the end of a tumultuous year in Australian politics, Justine Toh of the Centre for Public Christianity reflects on what the Christmas story has to teach us in response to the public debates of 2013. The full article can be read here and here.

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