Christmas always evokes a very particular time and place – the Middle East a little more than two thousand years ago. This Christmas, we think of that place at this time. For the Christians of that region where the Word was made flesh, where God became one of us, this Christmas will be a time not of peace but of horrific violence, not of joy but of deep sorrow, a time not of life but of death.
It’s unthinkable that we would celebrate Christmas while ignoring what’s happening to the Christians of the Middle East right now. They have lost possessions and homes; many have also lost their lives. To make matters worse, the winter has now come. We cannot look away or turn away. Ignorance is no excuse.
What gifts can we offer them this Christmas? Because if we have no gifts to offer them, our gifts to each other and to the newborn Saviour will be empty gestures. The first gift we can offer the Christians of the Middle East is a decision to find out more about their appalling situation; the second is to pray for them each day, begging the Saviour to do for them what human beings seem unable or unwilling to do; the third is to support them financially in any way possible.
Let these gifts be the gold, frankincense and myrrh we bring this Christmas to our Christian brothers and sisters of the Middle East and to Jesus himself: “As you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
Most Rev Mark Coleridge
Archbishop of Brisbane