The vicar of St Faith’s, Lee-on-the-Solent, says we should focus on how to make the world a better place.
Last week Greggs, the high street bakers, released news of their first ever advent calendar. The photo released with it got people talking.
In this picture, which looks like a traditional nativity scene, the three wise men surround a crib, holding their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In the crib, however, is not baby Jesus. In the crib is a partly eaten sausage roll.
This was, of course, an opportunity for another ‘Christians are offended by something’ story.
However, as a Christian, I’m not offended at all.
Clearly, Greggs set out to get some publicity for their new advent calendar – and they massively succeeded.
Who would even have heard of this calendar, if this ‘controversy’ had not been created?
Greggs apologised for any offence caused, but their marketing team are probably very happy – now millions of people know of their product. Job done.
Instead of being offended by such a photo, it would be far better for Christians to take the opportunity to speak about why the nativity story is important, and what it means.
Christians believe the baby at the centre of the nativity story was special. He is ‘God With Us’, God come as a human being.
That’s what makes Christmas such a special time for Christians – we are celebrating the time when God himself entered history, when God became a person you could touch.
When Jesus grew up, he spent three years or so preaching and teaching, telling people about God, and inviting people to follow him. He also gave his followers instructions on how to live.
None of those instructions included ‘be offended when people disagree with you, or take the mickey out of your beliefs’.
They did however include caring for the poor and needy.
As a Christian, therefore, I am far more offended by global poverty, racism and the human cost of war, than I am about Greggs’ sausage-roll- in-a- manger.
Perhaps this Advent and Christmas, we should all seek to do something about the problems in our world, and try to make the world a better place, rather than fixate on more trivial stories about bakery products.
St Faith’s Church is in Victoria Square, Lee-on-the-Solent.
To contact the parish office call (023) 9255 6445 or visit stfaithslee.org.uk.