We have passed through Christmas. The season is a welcome break in the drich winters of Scotland. There is light on the streets, and many people take the opportunity to do something special – even during Covid times. In the public gaze, all eyes are drawn to the stable and the birth of Jesus.

Beyond Christmas, some people might let their gaze be drawn beyond the glittering tinsel and into the cave where Jesus hides with his family while the status quo searches to snuff out this spark of creative potential. What gifts wait to be unwrapped as the story of Jesus unfolds?

The ways in which the story of Christmas has been told have tended towards simplifying the story into one of a succession of visits to the stable. This is used to emphasise very important messages but has become a bottleneck. The story is displayed as a universal story of peace and hope. It becomes an allegorical tale of humility. It becomes a moral encouragement to be generous.

What is lost through? How often do we think about what did the shepherds did after they left the stable? It could have been around two years between the shepherds and the Magi visiting. Perhaps rumours of strange occurrences and civil unrest starting with the shepherds tales had reached the ears of the palace in this time. Perhaps recent politics in Scotland and the wider UK can help us imagine the extent to which some of those in power will go to hold on to power. I am glad that despite the polarisation in society there hasn’t been a return to the troubles and violent clashes that took place in my childhood. Living in an echo chamber both online of off it can encourage false confidence in ideas which seem good, but have evil long term consequences.

Sparks are the ignition of fires though. If we spend time in the stable, perhaps we can learn more about the character of Jesus and this can help us learn about the character we can unwrap. The story of the Magi reveals God placing a message in the stars and ways to read that message in human minds. Laying down kindling in which the spark can catch, for a fire which will illuminate the whole of time.

If we stand with Jesus and look out where he leads, what journeys have been prepared for us to find?

The following is a story of how one phrase led to a transformation in the way the teller saw everything. It is described as a cannonball moment to relate it to the life of Ignatius. Perhaps in the story I am telling in this post it could be described as a spark, or the process of unwrapping a present.


Take some time out to reflect.

What moments have you experienced this Christmas time?

If you pass through the bottleneck of Christmas, what potential do you see as your vision opens up?

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