Look around St Chrysostom’s church congregation, look around in our schools, and you will see an amazing variety of people, young and old. I recently went to a coffee morning at St Chrysostom’s School. At the table of nine people at which I was sitting each person came from a different country: China, Congo, Pakistan, England, Iraq, Romania, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
The Nativities! display at Church emphasises this for me in a wonderful way. The nativities are so varied and representative of so many cultures. One part of the display draws this out very clearly. Children had discussed and researched how the birth of Jesus had been represented in different countries around the world and they collected different representations.
The children were then invited to draw their own nativity scene. How would they represent the birth of Jesus? The results on display are wonderful, colourful and thought provoking.
We don’t know what Jesus, Mary and Joseph looked like. We can’t be sure of the colour of their skin or their physical appearance. Christian faith is concerned less with this and more with the wonderful truth that God comes to in human form, our form, and that form has many many different appearances.
Thank you to the children for reminding us, through their work and beautiful drawings, of the profound teaching of Christianity that our God is a God for all peoples, and how we ‘see’ God depends so much on our cultures and upbringing.
O God of the children of Somalia, Sudan, and Syria,
Of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of India, Iraq, Iran, and Israel
Of the Rohingya and Romania, of Tanzania and Tibet,
Of Myanmar and Manchester and Dublin and Yemen
Help us to see you in them and love and respect and protect them all.
O God of Black and Brown and White and Albino children and those all mixed together,
Of children who are rich and poor and in between,
Of children who speak English and Russian and Hmong and Spanish and
languages our ears cannot discern,
Help us to see you in them and love and respect and protect them all
(based on a prayer of Madeline Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund)