Turning at the Turn of the Year – A video message from Bishop Rachel

Published: Tuesday December 31, 2019

The light of Christ shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. Bishop Rachel shares a message of change for the New Year.Church of England

Transcript of the message:

The recent general election was the first one to be held in December for many many years, and I think the physical darkness of the autumn and winter has made it much harder to live the landscape of political turbulence.
The diminishing of truth and trust and the narrative of division has perhaps felt starker as the physical absence of light has been increasing and the days have been getting shorter.

And of course if the days continued to shorten and the darkness continued to increase, there would come a point where life would be extinguished and death would have the final word.

But with the winter solstice comes a turning point – the light begins to increase day by day and the days lengthen. And it is in this time that Christmas comes and a new year begins.

From the very beginning of time, humanity has been: turning our backs on God and treating the earth and our neighbours with disregard – And if God had not chosen to rescue us then the growing absence of light would have eventually overpowered us – and darkness and death would have the final word. But Thank God that there came a turning point – That first Christmas about 2000 years ago.

God came to earth in the darkness of night – a tiny, vulnerable baby, yet coming as the light of the world. Here is God’s love in human flesh, revealing to us the God who has chosen to rescue us from the darkness. That baby grew to be man and in the darkness of another day he was cruelly tortured and put to death on a cross by people who could not bear too much light.

And as the darkness closed in, Jesus Christ cried out from the cross and it seemed that the light had been extinguished…
But there came another turning point. Three days later when Jesus rose from the dead – the hope of the light had won – Death and darkness will not have the final word. God is light – and that light and love will never be extinguished. And if we like the shepherds dare to respond to that message of the angels, and hurry to Bethlehem in our hearts and minds, to peer into that animal feeding trough and see the gift of the Christ child, we will see the invitation of a turning point.
Again and again comes the invitation to turn our faces and hearts to the light; to receive God’s generous love and forgiveness… And choose to follow.

I pray that as we journey into 2020 – a significant turning point not only for our government and our country, but also for ourselves as we begin a new year. And I also pray that each of us might be part of the turning which is needed.

That our words and actions might be ones of kindness and compassion; and our turning might be towards one another and not away from one another – even turning towards those we find difficult or with whom we disagree.

As we journey into 2020 may our lives declare that the shortest days are over and we too want to walk in the light.
The first chapter of John’s gospel proclaims that Christ is full of grace and truth – and that the light of Christ ‘shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.’

May you trust that truth and know it for yourself.

I wish you a hope-filled Christmas and a peaceful new year.

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