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Dear Parents of toddlers, I formally apologise to you. There have been times before Little Welford joined us when I judged you. I saw you crossing at the traffic lights when the man was red and I thought I could do better. I failed to take into account what trauma may have gone on before hand, how you may have just been trying to get home with minimum fuss. I saw your attempts (or non attempts) at public discipline and I thought I could do better. I didn’t take into account the personality of your little one, or even consider what challenges they may have already faced in their young life. I saw you struggling to put on their coats, shoes (on them not you. You would naturally struggle to get in them yourself) or them into a car seat, and thought I could do better. I was wrong, so very wrong. I’m sorry it took me this long to show you more compassion, that I have had to experience it before empathising.

Funny how we can look at things and think we know it all. We have become so familiar with them that we only register what we want to. Nine years of infertility meant Anna and I looked at other parents and judged their efforts. By the time we met Little Welford our plan was formed, we had seen and rejected all the rubbish parenting techniques and we were ready – that lasted about a day!

We can treat the Bible the same way. We are so familiar with some of the stories that we don’t stop to consider them more deeply. To consider the sheer humanity of them. The Nativity is victim to this perhaps most of all. Mary was between 12-14 years old! Just think about some of the 13 year old girls you know. Now imagine them pregnant, clamming up about who the father is. Scary right? Picture a man engaged, finding out that his fiancé is up the duff, spouting some crazy story. Even when the Angel straightens things out that is still a rough ride. Finding out that you aren’t going to have much to do with your first son? In an extremely patriarchal society? A knock to the pride at the very least. Jesus being born in a smelly, dank animal shelter? I could go on and on. The Nativity story perhaps isn’t as familiar as we think.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.’