I have a curious nature, and so today I wondered why the day after Christmas Day is called “Boxing Day”. It turns out that in the past it had been named this because it was traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people and homeowners in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants.
Hmm. Watching the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey last night, I was pleased to see that whilst there were still servants then, the family didn’t abide that tradition. “Upstairs” served themselves at lunchtime so that “downstairs” could have a lunch together before serving “upstairs” dinner, and “upstairs” gave “downstairs” presents on Christmas Day itself, including a rather lovely looking piece of jewelry from eldest daughter Mary to Anna.
Mary’s pompous husband-to-be was disgusted of course, but the others ignored him.
Things have changed since then, and now, in a way, there’s a greater sense of equality. We still need to be more inclusive at Christmas-time and in everyday life though. In the stable was a baby, a mother, a “stepdad”/father, a shepherd, an ox, a wise man and a camel. Quite a mixed bunch eh? God was in the midst of them, as God is now.
I’m not a fan of Charles Dickens’ writing, but let’s hold in our hearts throughout the year to come:
At least 35 people were killed by a bomb in a Roman Catholic Church service in Nigeria yesterday. Whatever creed, whatever race, whatever our differences, let’s allow ourselves to become vulnerable as Jesus did in the manger, and love with all our hearts as he did as he grew, and as Mary did beside him.
As Jesus was born in the stable, let’s be happy when we don’t get the 5 star inn – Nanna forgot the roast potatoes for the dinner last night but I was full of good food anyway. Mary didn’t ban the wise men, or the shepherds from entering the stable. All were let in who wanted to see beauty, to see love, to believe in the hope of a better world. It was the shepherds and the wise men, not either or. Let’s help all people, love all people, and as Mary and Joseph lay down in the straw for the animals’ leavings, let’s not be afraid of getting our hands a little mucky in the process.
Now I look back to Naomi Pendle writing in the ChurchTimes in February of this year:
After 50 years of war, the past five years of peace have allowed the people of South Sudan, and villages such as Marol, to start to build a future of a nation. Marol Academy was built because of peace, with the promise of South Sudan’s independence.
As the Academy grows, it aspires to provide people who can lead and construct this new nation. Having heard stories of the pains and sufferings of its birth, to see this new nation and its new school in its infancy is the greatest privilege. It is worth getting your feet dirty for.
Naomi Pendle helping the people in South Sudan and getting her feet mucky in the process, Mary and Joseph getting themselves mucky in their little shelter… me and thee getting ourselves a bit mucky helping those in need this Christmas, and always?