The other week people of all faiths gathered in the city to hold a vigil for the displaced. It was a vigil of hope. A vigil which challenged us all to welcome the displaced into our lives and to show that there is another way this Christmas.
In many ways the Christmas story is a story of the displaced. God’s son comes from his rightful place in the glory of heaven to be born in the humble stable. A vulnerable stranger in a strange land. His parents are far away from the place they could call home. His enemies surrounding him and his first action being a need to flee, as a refugee, to Egypt.
But you don’t have to be physically away from the security of your home to feel displaced. We know that this Christmas, like so many Christmas’s, some people will feel displaced. They will see joy and partying around them and not feel as if they can be part of that celebration. It may be a painful reminder of bereavement, or there may be family tensions, or Christmas may be difficult to afford. There are a host of reasons to feel an outsider to the Christmas party.
But Christmas is for the displaced. Jesus came to this world as a displaced person to be alongside the poor and the displaced. His story is an example to us all.
Like so many of the great cities in this country Liverpool faces tough times and the government cuts prompted by austerity start to bite. The services we treasure – to children, to old people, to the poor and vulnerable - start to get cut back. Hard-working local politicians are forced to make tough decisions about what to fund and what to stop. Liverpool is a generous welcoming city, a community that pulls together - but we still need to hear the story of hope and be the people of hope, giving a voice to the voiceless and strength to the weak.
So we need Jesus’ story today. The story that starts in a stable and ends on a cross. The story of a person who continually urged his followers to work for the poor and the marginalised. To comfort the lost and lonely. To clothe the naked. To feed the hungry. This is the story we need to keep hearing and the example we need to keep following.
Those who led that vigil for the displaced were honouring that story - the story of the God of the displaced. They shine the light of God’s hope into the world alongside the hundreds of others who support our foodbanks, help their neighbours, serve their communities. Our prayer is that you too will be touched by that story and spread Christ’s joy and peace to all this Christmas.