Chapter & verse: Matthew 2: 1-18
Lawrence Moore on foster care and the Christmas story
Matthew presents Jesus as Emmanuel – ‘God with us’ (Matt 1:23). God came in Jesus to change the world. That is why the Gospel is good news. That God does not watch our agonies from far off, or abandon us to darkness and despair, is very good news indeed. It is especially good news to people faced with forces way beyond their control, backed up by systems that ensure they are always victims – always silenced and disbelieved, so that the world can carry on unchallenged. Jesus came to share their suffering, and also to do something about it.
Matthew’s Christmas story shines a light on the system that protects Herod’s dynasty. A system triggered by the arrival of wise men in Jerusalem, enquiring after ‘the child who has been born [the true] king of the Jews’. The system is threatened; Herod is frightened. He acts secretly to contain and control the threat, and when he is thwarted, moves ruthlessly to eliminate it. The victims are Bethlehem’s children – unimportant Jewish peasant children, invisible in the obscurity of a tiny rural village, helpless in the face of the political and military forces at Herod’s disposal. Their massacre wouldn’t make the Jerusalem news. No one would notice.
God noticed, though. And God expects us to do the same. It is a vital part of celebrating Christmas.
Christmas, more than any other point in the calendar, is time to take stock of what is happening to children removed from their families and taken into care. You might have missed the report of the Jersey Care Inquiry in July 2017 (see bit.ly/2zbPrmM). It was buried beneath far more newsworthy items: Donald Trump, Brexit and disputes over fishing rights. The report details the systematic cruelty and emotional, sexual and physical abuse of children in care homes on Jersey. It makes horrific reading. Most chilling is the deliberate blindness of the Jersey authorities in the face of systematic abuse over decades. Fear, and a desire to preserve ‘the Jersey way’, won out over protecting vulnerable children and dismantling an abusive system…
Lawrence Moore is a Mission and Discipleship Consultant in Salford, Greater Manchester
This is an extract from an article that was published in the December 2017 / January 2018 edition of Reform