Bishop Rachel’s Christmas message to all

Published: Thursday December 15, 2022

Bishop Rachel shares her message to all this Christmas:

Full text of this message to all:

There are so many messages of crisis: climate crisis, fuel crisis, cost of living, NHS, and crises across our world, including in Ukraine.

And that crisis-messaging can make people anxious – even despairing .. although crises are nothing new.

The events of the first Christmas 2,000 years ago, happened in a place under occupation – not Ukraine but Israel-Palestine.

There was a call for a census with people having to travel to their ancestral home to be registered. one man, Joseph, had to travel about 100 miles to his hometown of Bethlehem.

Admittedly there’s no train-strike crises because, well, it’s long before modern transport – there’s just the good old donkey.

Then there’s Mary. She’s really young, pregnant, unmarried … although Joseph is engaged to her. But here’s something which might be seen as crisis – the child is not his! Although it’s actually good news. This child in Mary’s womb is God’s child. Hope If it’s hard to get your head around the climate crisis, get your head round that! Well, we can’t because this is mystery and love. We can’t explain love, so why do we think we can explain God who IS love?

Back to the crises: The couple arrive in crowded Bethlehem and Mary’s in labour. And it’s not just no NHS, there’s no available accommodation! They end up with the animals, and the new-born baby’s cot is the feeding trough.

And although there’s celebration, bizarrely involving angels – and shepherds …the family become part of a refugee crisis ..

Power-seeking leaders are nothing new. King Herod had heard of the birth of a boy-King potentially threatening his power so the family flee to Egypt to escape the massacre of baby boys.

Herod failed to grasp that the baby Jesus Christ was God come to earth. God with us – it’s what his name means – Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us …not just back then but now. God with us in our celebrations and in pain and anxiety, and crises. God with us even beyond death.

No crisis today can undo that birth of unchanging hope – God’s love is here to stay.

A church near you wants to share that hope-filled adventure. Happy Christmas!

See also: Bishops message to the Diocese of Gloucester

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