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These shocking Christmas cards remind us the Nativity wasn't picturesque

The charity Doctors of the World UK have released a selection of Christmas cards that re-imagine the Nativity in the context of the modern-day Middle East. Katie Stock explains their significance.

Each generation feels as though the future is uncertain but this Christmas the global political climate feels particularly fragile. 2016 has seen terrorist attacks in Europe as close as Nice and Berlin, thousands of civilians trapped in the beseiged city of Aleppo, and the Lord’s Resistance Army continuing their reign of terror in central Africa.

Our Christmas cards with their sugar-coated designs don’t speak into this uncertainty. The hope-filled images of the nativity, or singing angels, or even a snow-laden landscape can feel at odds with the reality of life - both then and now. 

In our typical Christmas cards Mary appears glowing, not bedraggled. The new-born Jesus lies sweetly without even a blemish on his face. The sky is clear except for a star guiding the way. But the original nativity was not as picturesque as our Christmas cards suggest. If Jesus were born today it certainly would not have been picture-perfect.

With this in mind, Doctors of the World UK have released a range of cards combining traditional Christmas scenes with the reality of war in the Middle East. It’s unavoidable that the geography of the biblical Christmas story is predominantly in unrest. Especially as Syria's war is raging just over the border from where Jesus was born.

These cards challenge us as we pray for peace this Christmas: 

The Magi no longer observe the star on their way to the Christ child, but a drone firing a missile from the sky. 

The young and heavily pregnant Mary is led on a donkey past bombed out buildings as she and Joseph negotiate their way to Bethlehem.

The classic nativity is interrupted by a rocket being launched. Joseph’s face is hidden as he turns to see it ascend over his young family.

Rather than the traditional stable as the birthplace of Jesus, here the holy family find refuge in a bombed out building. The shepherds come none-the-less and adore the new king.

For more information visit doctorsoftheworld.org.uk

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