Geoffrey Bull and the meaning of Christmas

It was 1950, and Geoffrey Bull was serving as a missionary in Tibet, when invading Chinese armies swept into the country.

Bull found himself a prisoner of the communist forces, confined to a primitive Tibetan house.

Years later , when released and back in Britain , he told the BBC of an event early in his period of captivity.

He said: “Before retiring, one of the officers ordered me to below to give some hay to his horse.

“My boots squelched through the manure and straw. The fetid smell of the animals was nauseating.

Then suddenly I remembered the date.

“It was the twenty-fourth of December! Christmas Eve!

“As I stood there in the shadows of that eastern manger, so deeply conscious of its squalor and wretchedness, the wonder of those happenings at Bethlehem long ago, swept over me as never before.

“It was to a place like this, then , that Jesus came. I seemed to forget about being a prisoner. The stable had become a holy place and I could only bow in worship and in praise.

“Slowly, I made my way back up the stairs and lay down, strangely content to sleep upon the floorboards.

“Surely God had met me again and as I thought about it all, words from my boyhood days came back to me;

“Love to the uttermost, love to the uttermost. love past all measuring, His love must be;

“From heaven’s highest glory to earth’s deepest shame, This is the love of my Saviour to me.”

May all my readers enjoy a wonderful Christmas, and discover afresh, as Geoffrey Bull did, the love that brought Christ to earth for our salvation.

David Clarke is former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church

The stable had become a holy place and I could only bow in worship and in praise: