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Baby Jesus credit unsplash credit walter chavezDerek Estill, Moderator-elect of General Assembly, reflects on the importance of Jesus’ birth.

In amongst the excitement and final preparations for Christmas Day we often lose sight of what that first Christmas Eve would have been like. 

No tinsel or lights for Mary and Joseph, who were urgently and anxiously trying to find somewhere to stay. Mary was about to give birth and Joseph worried about her and how things were going to work out.

Read more: Don't lose sight of Christmas' importance

christmas cowsWhat’s so special about a baby in a cattle shed? asks Susan Durber

There is something utterly extraordinary that we celebrate at Christmas. But it is not, I think, that a baby was once born in a stable. There was a moment in my life, a short while ago, when it suddenly dawned on me that that’s not so very odd at all.

I was on a Christian Aid visit to India and staying in an ordinary home in a village. I was trying to get to sleep after a long but exciting day. I could hear the man of the house snoring through the thin partition wall. But, much clearer than him, I could also hear the sounds of the cattle from the shed that was right up against the bedroom I was sharing with several other people.

Read more: Christmas among the cows

Agnes and child 2 bIt could have been easy for a 31-year-old London-based survivor of the Rwandan genocide to act like the world owed her something after the atrocities she had experienced.

But Agnes Uwase – who has recently returned from spending seven months in four countries on the Council for World Mission’s (CWM) Training in Mission programme after being nominated to take part by the United Reformed Church – says it’s her duty to give back and calls herself a ‘Jesus warrior’.

Read more: Genocide survivor turns ‘Jesus warrior’ after completing CWM course

blind grace credit gabriel barletta v2South London grime star Stormzy beat Ed Sheeran and Lorde to be named artist of the year at the 2017 BBC Music Awards last week; and his debut album Gang Signs and Prayers is the first grime record to reach number one.

Simon Peters, Children’s and Youth Work Programme Officer, reflects on just what one of Stormzy’s hit records has in common with Bible passage John 1:12-14.

‘Like many Grime albums, Stormzy’s music may appear to some, at first listen, to be quite aggressive, boastful and messy,’ says Simon. ‘There’s a reason for that. The world can be a difficult place to be in, especially for those who are so often ignored, neglected or misunderstood. Grime music is one avenue which some people chose to assert themselves, vent their feelings and express their identity.

Read more: Blinded by your grace