A story for the world

Rev. Dr. David Latimer pictured at Monreagh Presbyterian Church for a special service held to celebrate his 25 years in ministry. (1604PG49)

Rev. Dr. David Latimer pictured at Monreagh Presbyterian Church for a special service held to celebrate his 25 years in ministry. (1604PG49)

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It isn’t difficult to see why the story of a baby lying in the manger is loved and respected by people of different creeds and cultures around the world.

It is a compelling and dramatic story: A long journey through a land under military occupation culminating in a birth in improvised accommodation, the Angelic Host, shepherds and Wise Men.

It says something is happening that will break boundaries and cross frontiers. The most unlikely people will find they are looking for the same thing and will recognise each other instead of fearing each other. There is something here that draws strangers together. It’s as if what human beings really wanted was not revenge or endless cycles of scoring off each other, but to stand together in shared astonishment.

The clutching hand of the baby is something we can’t resist. The Christmas story outrageously suggests that putting our hand into the clutch of a baby may be the most important thing we can do as members of the human race – a real letting go of aggression and fear and suggests this particular baby, who is rescued at the last moment from a village massacre is the place where the power of the creator of the universe is completely present.

The reality is this story of defenceless love should, at the very least, make us think twice about giving up on the human heart’s capacity for goodness and faith, however deeply buried.

Rev Dr David Latimer

First Derry