On an Antarctic ice-flow, baby polar bear asks his dad, “Am I really a polar bear?”

“Of course you are son.”

“Am I REALLY a polar bear dad?”

“You certainly are son!”

“Are you really sure I’m a polar bear dad!?!”

“You certainly are son! Why do you ask?”

“AM FREEZIN’!”

We lunched in the Cumbrian Tebay service station travelling home from a family wedding in Liverpool, grateful for such a warm, wintry, atmospheric, and picturesque setting. I imagined Mary and Joseph on their 100+ miles journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem meeting such thick snow, far from the luxury we enjoyed. How grateful we should be to Mary & Joe for their obedience and determination to reach Bethlehem for their clan’s census, ordered by the Roman Emperor, and orchestrated within God’s providence and ancient promise of The World’s Saviour.

I imagine, in growing up, that young Jesus must have wondered if he really was ‘The Son of God’ such was his real raw humanity, exposed to extremes in temperature, vulnerable to human cruelty, sensitive to the deep needs of so many.

Andrew Thornton and Ivy Gardener were married in a cold church sanctuary warmed by the surrounding love of family and friend, their passionate commitment to each other, and God’s Covenant Love which we celebrated in song, prayer, and preaching. The groom, our nephew Andrew, had already been out to Zambia to meet Ivy’s family and join in with their special African wedding-preparation celebrations. Though born and brought up in Wales to Scottish and English parents, Andrew loves to wear his kilt and ceilidh dance, proud of his Scottish heritage and varied national identities. Reception tables were moved to extend the dance floor for a decent ceilidh, where Scot, Zambian, English, Welsh, Northern Irish, and many other nationalities interweaved in glorious dancing.

Alas, Ivy’s parents and close family were only able to be present via streaming and internet, but both the new Mr & Mrs Thornton could be in no doubt that they were surrounded by Love; precious, loved and supported by God, Family, and Friends in their life together. Challenges will come on their identities as husband and wife. Andrew and Ivy have rings, documents, videos, photos, celebrations, and many memories to remind them of their new identity as Mr & Mrs. Even more important than these they have their core identity as beloved children of God. God’s 24/7 love for, with and through us, is the critical truth able to cut through the ice and stone that can surround and harden our hearts.

This is the exquisite and superlative truth that we journey with and celebrate through, and beyond, this Christmas period: that, through faith and trust in Jesus Christ we are God’s children:  “The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves… The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (John 1:9-14 / MSG)