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It's not the same old story

The words of a familiar tale have changed lives, writes Sarah Olowofoyeku

The gift of God’s presence is available for everyone

LETITIA WRIGHT, one of the stars of this year’s hit film Black Panther, is retelling a well-known story on TV late on Christmas Day.

The young actress who rose to fame after the release of the Marvel movie had also starred in the Channel 4 drama Top Boy and has since acted in the Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War.

In BBC Two’s On Christmas Night she gives an account of some of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

The story, which can be found in the Bible, includes Joseph, a man from Nazareth who has had to return to his hometown of Bethlehem to take part in a census. He travelled with his pregnant wife, Mary, and while in Bethlehem, she gave birth.

On the night the baby is born, some shepherds working in the fields nearby have a special encounter. While watching their flocks, an angel appears in front of them.

The angel urges the frightened shepherds not to be afraid, because they are about to hear something that will be good news for everyone. They are told that a baby has been born to Mary and Joseph and that he is the Messiah – the person the people had been waiting for who would rescue them from their struggles with oppression.

Suddenly, the angel is joined by a large number of other angels, who are all praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

After the angels leave, the shepherds go in search of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. When they find them and see that Jesus is lying in a manger, just as the angel had said, they tell Mary and Joseph everything else they had been told about the baby.

What the shepherds said confirmed what an angel had already told Joseph – that the baby Jesus was a gift from God to the world and that, through him, God would be with people on earth.

Over the years, many people have experienced the truth of what the angel said about Jesus, including Letitia Wright. After asking Jesus to prove that he was real, the actress found herself on a journey of discovery about him.

Jesus is given many titles in the Bible, including Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’, and Letitia has felt his presence in her life.

Speaking to Magnify magazine, Letitia says that she tried everything from partying to other religions to help deal with the depression she was suffering, but it was Jesus who set her free. ‘That’s not to say I don’t have bad days,’ she says, ‘because I do, but I go through those days with Jesus.’

During the Christmas season, Christians celebrate the gift of God’s presence, which is available for everyone to receive.

If we choose to believe the angels’ words about Jesus and make him a part of our stories, we can know that he is with us on good and bad days, whatever the time of year.

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