Challenge your pre-suppositions this Christmas, says Methodist President

The Revd Leo Osborn, President of the Methodist Conference, haschallenged people to push past their assumptions about the nativitystory this Christmas.

Mr Osborn said that asking God to take away our belief that we've"seen it all or know it all" would help us to reflect on things ina new light. "For if we look carefully, this simple story may haveimportant things to say to us about many of the personal, social,religious and international issues facing us and our world today,and God's part in them all," he said.

The full text follows:

"Each year the Connexional Team send out a Christmas Card fromMethodist Church House and this year the Vice-President and I havebeen allowed to use it too! It's from a painting by He Qi. When Ilooked at it, at first I could only see two wise men. "Where's thethird?" I immediately thought and then not long afterwards thoughtagain, "But why should there be three anyway?" Yet we all bring ourpre-suppositions to the Christmas story, don't we, perhapsexpecting to find not only three wise men but kings and innkeepersnot to mention donkeys, holly, ivy and snow! But you'll be hardpushed to discover any of them in the Gospel narratives - not evenin the Authorised version! Even the wise men themselves of coursehad pre-conceptions that a king would be born in Jerusalem, notBethlehem. But when I glanced for a second and third time and in adifferent light I could eventually see where the third Wise Man was- and although it doesn't add anything to the Gospel story it mademe feel sentimentally better!

"Well perhaps this Christmas each of us needs to come again tothis oh so familiar story, asking that God would take away thepre-supposition that we've seen it all or know it all and help usto reflect on things in a new light. Or perhaps to have light shedon something long since known but forgotten or ignored. For, if welook carefully, this simple story may have important things to sayto us about many of the personal, social, religious andinternational issues facing us and our world today, and God's partin them all.

"And challenging our pre-suppositions and opening our eyes issurely what God is always about, as I have discovered during myfirst six months as President, when, although some situations andpeople have been as I'd imagined, many haven't and I've had tolearn to look at things in a different light. And for the comingyear you may already have imagined - or planned out - how life orfaith or church is going to be. Well prepare to be surprised likeMary, Joseph, the shepherds and wise men were long ago! Butremember too that the one who came and comes is named Emmanuel -God with us - so whatever may be different from what you imagineand however things may seem as a result, God remains the same -dwelling alongside you in grace, truth and love.

"May that same God bless you this Christmas and beyond!"