One of the many inconsistencies between the traditional understanding of the Christmas story and what’s actually in the Bible is that Jesus was born in poverty in some cave or shed. It would be closer to say that he was born in the public guesthouse reserved for strangers and travellers because there was no longer space in the guest rooms of friends and family. Also inaccurate is the idea that Jesus was poor. Joseph was a carpenter, a skilled craft requiring training and tools that the poor simply wouldn’t be able to afford. Sometimes we need to reacquaint ourselves with the truth instead of simply accepting life as we’ve been taught it should be.
Jesus came from a relatively middle-class family, but he centred his teaching and life not around the ‘good’ people but the marginalised. He was constantly getting into trouble for eating with tax collectors and sinners, for going out of his way to touch lepers and for suggesting that he could forgive the sins of those who had done great wrongs.
In the past few weeks there’s been a lot in the news about inequality and social mobility. The whole of the government’s social mobility commission quit en masse over a lack of political will to make the changes necessary, income inequality is getting greater and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently suggested that ‘nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are now living in poverty than five years ago’.
We in Thorner, Barwick and Scholes generally live in relative wealth and comfort. We are not in danger of being thrown onto the street or of becoming unemployed with no hope of finding a new job. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those within our villages who are in that position. I have recently signed up to be a holder of food bank tokens for Wetherby Foodbank. It is clear from those that run the Foodbank that there are within every village some who are living silently and often invisibly in desperate poverty. They are unwilling to admit to their lack because they live in an area where everyone else seems to be doing so well.
I invite anyone who needs a food parcel to come and see me or to contact me on 0113 289 2437.
Jesus was from a relatively prosperous family home, but voluntarily spent time amongst the poorest and most marginalised people. Perhaps it’s time we did the same.