I eschewed church tonight for a night with my feet up, hoping to enjoy some Top Gear and was intrigued to see ‘Liverpool Nativity‘ on BBC3 – described as ‘the Christmas story live in Liverpool as you’ve never seen it before’. It was a powerful performance – imagining the nativity – so sanitised and well known in modern Liverpool. The Salvation Army band marching past playing Christmas carols as Mary and Joseph are abused, issues of asylum, national security, state control reminding us not of the lovely nativity, but of a couple who were outcasts, sleeping rough, baby in a shopping trolley. They did a great job of breathing life back into the nativity, reminding me of the shock and scandal of the coming of Jesus into the world. With the lovely nativity scenes, we forget about the genocide, the killing of the innocents perpetuated by the ruler of the state, the scandal of a pregnant unmarried couple, their welcome by the outcast unreliable shepherds, by the foreign wise men, and the smell and excrement in the animal pen. Into this God came.
Tonight reminded me how the nativity story speaks powerfully into today, how it challenges us on how we treat the outsider, the immigrant, the asylum seeker, the people society despise – the ones God chose to announce then coming of hope and light and life to.
[Wasn’t so sure about the use of Imagine by John Lennon that the ‘shepherds’ were singing before the angels came. Although maybe a depressing hopeless song interrupted by the coming of hope makes sense…]
Tonight a holy moment took root again