Missing Christmas?

This article was published in the Knaphill Resident Association’s Christmas News on behalf of Holy Trinity and St Saviour’s Anglican Church, Knaphill Baptist Church, Knaphill Methodist Church & St Hugh of Lincoln Roman Catholic Church.

The Numbering in Bethlehem

There is a painting by the Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder called The Numbering in Bethlehem.  It is typical of Bruegel’s work – the picture is full of people.  The scene depicts the census which took place in Bethlehem at the time when Jesus was born.  In one corner there is a frozen pond on which children are playing.  A man is fishing in a hole in the ice.  In the background a house is being built.  A long queue of people are lined up to be enrolled and to pay taxes.  People are tending their pigs and hens.  Life goes on in a flurry of activity.  No one notices the figure on the donkey or the man walking beside her.  In fact, only the tell-tale carpenter’s saw over Joseph’s shoulder gives him away.  You really have to search for them in the crowd.  Unless you know what to look for, you would probably miss them.  Certainly, none of the people in the painting are taking any notice of Joseph and Mary, still less the unborn Son of God within her.  In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there were many in Bethlehem that first Christmas who had no idea that something very special was about to happen.

This painting parallels many people’s lives today.  They miss Christmas.  Caught up in a society which has largely forgotten about Jesus, there are many who will again ‘celebrate’ Christmas this December without a thought for the Saviour whose birth we commemorate. And yet … recognising what God has done for us all in sending his Son to be born amongst us that first Christmas has the power to transform our lives for the better. So … in all the hustle and bustle that Christmas has become today … take a few moments to ponder the fact that the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is none other than ‘Emmanuel – God with us!’ and that his ‘given name’ was ‘Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21,23).

The Rev Jim Binney is the Community Minister at Knaphill Baptist Church and Network Pastor for the North Downs Network of Baptist Churches belonging to the South Eastern Baptist Association.

Our Theme for 2022

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psalm 95:1