In a world that seems to be constantly dogged with the problem of war, the last thing that anyone wants to hear about is another one! And at Christmas time perhaps more than any other time we long for a world at peace.

The Christmas story (that is, of Jesus born as a baby in manger) is traditionally presented to us as a world away from war and trouble. It is kind of the antidote to the aggression we see in the world around us – a peaceful haven untroubled by the angry world. Some of the carols even tell us (wrongly) that “no crying he makes”.

Unfortunately, that is not how it ever was. Jesus was born into a world of trouble. In his early years, possibly before he could walk, his parents whisked him to Egypt to escape the violent Herod who killed all the young boys in Bethlehem in order to get rid of Jesus. Fortunately he failed in killing Jesus, but there was a tragic human loss for many families all the same. Where now the serene nativity scene?

Christmas. An invasion?

And there is another way of looking at the coming of Jesus. In one sense, his arrival itself was an invasion. Not the arrival of an army, not an aggressive dictator bent on destruction and power. But nonetheless it was the arrival of a child, who as a man (and we often forget the man in favour of the baby) would challenge humanity to the core. Here was a man who could not be faulted, even by his enemies. His life oozed out a different kind of quality to the rest of us. And his words called everyone to turn back to God. He lovingly told all he spoke to that they were rebels to God. That they needed to be ransomed, their debt to God needed to be paid. And yet who could pay it?

The challenge remains. A life once lived on earth cannot be erased. It can perhaps be forgotten. But somehow the life of Jesus in all its glory has never been forgotten. Perhaps it cannot be forgotten?

And then there is his death. A violent and undeserved death. Perhaps the clearest proof that Jesus did not live a life of serenity, and that he never intended that. But a death which claimed to be unlike any other. A death for us. That payment we could never pay. Could this be true? Do I really need that?

You see, in a way, Jesus birth is an invasion. The arrival on our shores of a man whose own life and words cut through our own – challenge and provoke us.

Invasion that brings peace?

But not all invasions are bad things. What about when that invasion is of a force which has come to liberate? Although there will still be turmoil and loss this invasion will ultimately bring peace.

And although Jesus in a sense invades our history and longs to invade our lives – your life too – he does so in order to bring peace. He comes to liberate. True and deep lasting peace with God. There may be turmoil and change, even loss, along the way. But the ultimate destination is knowing that through Jesus – his life and death – our loving Father God has fought to bring us back home to himself.

For that, an invasion is surely welcome?

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