The Venerable Martin Gorick, Archdeacon of Oxford

AT Midnight on Christmas Eve, I will be in Oxford’s cathedral at Christ Church, celebrating the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will be with fellow priests, hundreds of fellow Christians from Oxford and around the world, and anyone else who finds their way to this ancient and holy space at the heart of Oxford.

It’s the site of a Saxon monastery, where prayers have been offered day in day out for at least 1,300 years. Christmas is one of our greatest Christian festivals as we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. God coming to share our life in Jesus, that we might come to share his divine life through Jesus.

I wonder if you saw the story of the Lord’s Prayer being banned from cinemas? A one-minute film of the Archbishop of Canterbury, then ambulance drivers, children in a playground, a man lifting weights picking up the familiar words, ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ It was banned because it was seen as promoting a world view in a cinema, an act which might cause offence to viewers. Ironically of course, no other Christmas advert was banned, the endless adverts promoting a consumerist world view.

Adverts that promote the view that if you buy your turkey from this supermarket, or your trimmings from that supermarket you will have a happy Christmas. Or if you buy this perfume, or that car you will find fulfilment and joy. Or adverts that say Christmas is all about snow, eating and drinking to excess, anything except Jesus himself.

These world views can go unchallenged, it seems, but the Lord’s Prayer, taught by the Christ of Christmas, that is dangerous.

Its longing for a world that is more like heaven, where the hungry find bread, where trespasses are confessed and forgiven, where evil will not have the final world, this longing, it seems, is subversive and cannot be allowed in a cinema, where people may feel tainted, challenged or corrupted by hearing it. We live at times in a strange world.

Earlier on Christmas Eve I will be with friends from Oxford’s Central Mosque, joining them as they celebrate the birth of their prophet Mohammed which this year falls on December 24.

That is a powerful thought for me. In this year when we have been so appalled by world events, by terrorism of the most awful kind, when there is so much pressure on different communities to distrust, or even hate one another, this says something different.

The prophet Mohammed was born as a helpless baby. Our Lord Jesus Christ, born too as a helpless baby. Muslims and Christians coming together to celebrate the birthdays of their founding figures. All of us start our lives in the same way. All of us share a common basic humanity. We share that with Mohammed, we share it with Jesus, we share it with kings, paupers, terrorists the world over.

This is what we can celebrate at Christmas, whether we are people of faith or no faith, our common humanity. As a Christian I celebrate God sharing our life in Jesus, that we might share his divine life through Jesus. That he came to be born among us, born as one of us, in poverty and as a refugee, that we might know that he is always among us, even at our darkest hour. That he went to the cross to die for us, that we might know that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

So I’ll carry on celebrating a common humanity, shared with Muslim friends this Christmas, and with people of all faiths and none.