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“For to us a child is born; to us a (daughter) is given ...” (Isaiah 9:9)

One of my all-time favourite Christmas cards shows one of the shepherds rushing out of the stable to announce to the bemused wise men, “It’s a girl!”.

This Advent saw the announcement of the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child, and for the first time in history it will make no difference whether they have a boy or a girl - she or he will be third in line to the throne. The child born to Mary and Joseph was believed by many to fulfil Isaiah’s prophecy of a future king who would establish peace and prosperity for his people.

But Jesus was a king like no other. Not only is his gender unimportant; he brought good news of God’s love and welcome to all people, regardless of wealth, status, race or religion.

No wonder that the rich and powerful were afraid of him, while the poor people ‘heard him gladly’.