the nativity – scouse style

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

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5 Responses to the nativity – scouse style

  1. crookedshore says:

    you got in before me….I was just about to post much the same. A tremendous production, deeply moving too. And the baby in a shopping trolley was a great touch. What about Gabriel asking the city to ‘hide’ the Holy Family from the Herodians and the closing image of the Holy Family fleeing into the city? Genuinely prophetic.

  2. Having yet again spent the evening cradling my sick child, I only caught the last three minutes… enough to bring tears to my eyes. “Welcome them among you, swathe them in your love…”
    I believe it’s on again on BBC1 next Sunday 23rd, 10.45pm.

  3. Joy says:

    It’s on again at 11pm tonight (16th), though I imagine this post will be too late to be of help!

  4. Yup – on again tonight (Sunday 16th) at 11pm on BBC Three, and then next week Sunday 23rd at 11pm on BBC One NI (10.45pm elsewhere in the UK).

    You got there with your post ahead of me – but it was a fabulous watch.

  5. Ewan Roberts says:

    Hello – Glad you enjoyed the spectacle – there were actually Asylum Seekers and Refugees on stage which makes it all the more poignant. ‘Joseph’ came to our centre earlier in the year to find out a bit more about the whole Asylum issue and meet the people. When his mum asked him what he wanted for Christmas he said I don’t need anything but send something to the Asylum Seekers – so she did. After what’s been a really difficult year for many of the people we work with, it was nice to see it out with something as cockle warming as the nativity.

    All the best for 2008. Ewan

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