Christmas morning – a time when Christian families who have gathered together to celebrate the birth of Jesus (Yeshua) their Messiah, go to the local church. For us this happened to be in Scotland. The church was warm and welcoming. There was an air of excitement as people greeted each other with a "Happy Christmas" and children showed off their new toys.

The congregation waited expectantly for the service to begin with the prospect of the Christmas morning message that would fill our hearts with joy, hope and unity in celebrating the birth of the One who came to earth as a baby, was born in a stable in Bethlehem, Judea and was later to be crucified so that man may be reconciled to God the Father and have eternal life.

BUT……………………..rather than sending people away with thankfulness for Jesus in their hearts, each was given a star to be hung on their Christmas tree to remember a different "child of Bethlehem". On the star was a picture of "Jessica – child of Bethlehem", kindly provided, no expense spared, by Christian Aid.

Anyone would have been excused for thinking that it was Christian Aid Sunday together with its appeal for money, money, money, but it wasn’t. This was Christmas Day!!

During this Christmas service, the congregation was subjected to a shocking image of a small girl, holding a doll with its face smashed in and smeared with red paint. We were told that the girl’s name was Jessica, who had lost an eye because she got in the way of shrapnell from a bullet fired by Israeli soldiers, during conflict in Bethlehem. We were also told that there had been some difficulty getting Jessica to hospital because of the check-points manned by soldiers around Bethlehem.

Now Jessica was holding a doll with its face smashed in, we were told, because she felt ugly, so she had made her doll ugly too.

At the end of the service, the congregation left the church subdued and heavy-hearted. The excitement of Christmas morning had dissipated. Children, earlier delighted by their new toys, were now left with an image of a doll with its eye smashed in and a bloody face. Non-church goers, for whom Christmas Day may be the one time of the year when they visit a church, questioned the relevance of this presentation. Those concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism felt the severe blow of another nail in the coffin of the Jewish people.

Had this really taken place in a Christian church on Christmas Day?………………..Regrettably yes.

In the true Christmas story, the Jewish shepherds left Bethlehem to tell others about the Good News that a Saviour had been born to them, ordinary people, and that His Name was Jesus – child of Bethlehem as foretold in Micah (Mikhah) chapter 5 verse2.

By contrast, in the account above, the congregation left to tell others about "Jessica – child of Bethlehem".

Why was Christmas Day hijacked in this way?

Why is money, that is given to feed the poor, being used in this way?

D. Houghton