I have always LOVED the sheer creativity of local newspapers. They HAVE to be inventive because their brief is to be “local” – so they have to write about local things, yet most of the time NOTHING is happening locally. Most local newspaper reporters will find themselves spending entire days standing in a muddy field while a town councillor ceremoniously plants a tree to mark some vague local event, or interviewing yet another old lady in a nursing home who is 100yrs old today and has the secret of longevity to share with our readers! They will frequent dusty church halls and stand with small groups of assorted protesters in deserted town centres trying to find words that will grab the readers’ attention and make it all seem like news.
My father-in-law’s regional paper – the Western Mail is famous for its creativity in finding a local angle to just about any story happening anywhere in the world. If a distant friend of Justin Bieber had an uncle who once visited Swansea – then ANY story about Justin Bieber is basically a local story about Swansea! (I kid you not!) This does at least give a bit more scope!
Local Newspapers are struggling for all sorts of reasons, the print media in general is struggling, and maybe people think that they get their “local” from social media groups rather than in print today. But parents will always want to see pictures of their school nativity play in the local paper – or local births/deaths/marriages announcements in the local paper and there are plenty of local photographers for whom the thrill of seeing their photo in the local paper is unbounded.
There is something very endearing about local newspapers – they make the news human, like you and me, down MY street, in MY town. Because this stuff is happening where I am and it is deemed important enough to write about, then it must mean that I am significant and important enough to be written about.
The world is cranking itself up to celebrate christmas. Local reporters will be gearing themselves up for an endless succession of local village hall christmas fetes and (if they are lucky) a juicy crime story about all the presents being stolen from a charity collection…
At the heart of that story is a God who is determined to be LOCAL. Every church in the land will at some point reflect on those glorious words from the beginning of John’s Gospel: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)
There are two alternative translations of that verse that bring it right into the world of the LOCAL.
“God pitched his tent among us” and “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.”
That’s what Christmas is about – incarnation – God taking on human form and moving into our neighbourhood – moving in next door, down our street, pitching her tent among us.
None of the details of your local, seemingly insignificant life are beyond the scope of God’s interest. God is interested in the detail of your everyday world, wanting to be a part of it, wanting to walk every step of it with you.
This is the mystery and the glory of incarnation – the miracle of Christmas!
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