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The Politics of Christmas

The Politics of Christmas

Christmas is seen as a time when politics stops. This report argues that Jesus’ birth is a story of God’s interference in, and transformation of, the political order. Our celebration of Christmas should therefore be political also. (2011)

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Christmas is about spending time with family and friends… at least that is what the vast majority of us think.

Yet, this safe, domestic Christmas was largely an invention of the Victorians. The Christmas stories themselves, as told in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels, are far less peaceful and far more unsettling. 

Economic exploitation, imperial oppression, social stigma, petty tyranny: all are in the sights of a story in which God himself is born into a poor, vulnerable and somewhat unorthodox family unit. 

While Christmas must undoubtedly be a time for family and generosity, Stephen Holmes argues, it should also be a moment when we hear and attend to the Bible’s message of justice and freedom for all.

Stephen Holmes is Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of St Andrews.

“This short, sharp work comes straight from the heart of the Bible and goes straight to the heart of today’s muddled society at one of its most confusing moments – Christmas, the time when even those who remember Jesus tend to forget why he came. Lots of food for thought here, for everyone from preachers to politicians.” Tom Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews

“Christmas is a time for family, food, festivities… and financial justice? This brilliant short essay from Theos shows us how economic fairness, social inclusion, and political justice are central to the Christmas story. They are striking in the narratives in the gospels, and were once an issue in how Christians celebrated Christmas too. Read The Politics of Christmas and Yuletide will never be the same again.” Stephen Timms MP

 Image by Jill111 from available in the public domain.

Stephen Holmes

Stephen Holmes

Stephen Holmes is Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of St Andrews. His research is broadly focused on Christian theology in its classic forms, including both its history and contemporary expression.

Watch, listen to or read more from Stephen Holmes

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