No room at the inn- the line from scores of nativity plays.

A young unmarried mother carrying another’s child are shunned by their home town family. They end up in a cow shed. No one helps them.

Next the small family become refugees. They flee a country occupied by a foreign superpower ruled by a collaborating regime. Death and violence visits the area and they flee as migrants and make a journey across a hostile desert to relative safety. The escape into Egypt is part of the Christmas story.

Now, emerging from this nativity play we blink into reality. Damaged families are fleeing foreign wars, some of which are of our making. We recall how our nation once provided refuge for fleeing Huguenots, Belgians, Kinder-transported Jews or Ugandan Asians. Such refugees have enriched our nation. Many becoming professionals and entrepreneurs. A generation later one has become home secretary, in a position to offer help to other desperate families.

Yet we see the modern baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph choking in a sealed refrigerator lorry or drowning in a leaking boat, with distress calls ignored by the authorities but answered by brave RNLI volunteers.

The child in the nativity play became a man who urges us to clothe the naked , feed the hungry, welcome the stranger. “For as much as you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

Jon Orrell