by Fr Peter-Michael Scott

I am not a fan of reality television. I have never watched a programme which features Essex, Chelsea or Miami. However, I am partial to the reality which happened in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. The angels, Mary and Joseph, did not have the opportunity to invite a television crew into their temporary home, but they did encourage a gallery of strangers made up of wise men and shepherds to see their new addition.

As with reality TV, it was an invitation. In the same way that we can choose not to watch or to turn over to another channel, the shepherds and wise men could have ignored the modern day trailers or ‘spoilers’ as the star or angels might have been considered, and stayed where they were or gone back to sleep. Instead, they could not resist finding out what the ‘good news’ was.

Our manger scenes in churches, or interpretations depicted on Christmas cards are invitations to place ourselves with the shepherds and wise men and to visit Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. If we want to, we can accept that invitation and shut our eyes and imagine the rustle of straw, the swish of the cow’s tail, the night sky full of stars, and Mary and Joseph adoring our helpless God.

In this beautiful imaginary prayer (and God gave us the gift of imagination to help us pray), I would appeal that you do not enter the stable alone, but that you bring with you the community of St Joseph’s Hospice. That you sit at the edge of the stable marvelling at the Baby Jesus and you imagine beside you a hospice patient and their family, or a nurse or a doctor, or a ward clerk or a healthcare assistant or a precious volunteer and that you ask our gentle and vulnerable God to bless them and you.

Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers of St Joseph’s Hospice.