Christmas Message from Bishop Richard

Christmas is all around. There’s Christmas trees, Christmas Carols playing on repeat in every store, parties, and pop-up performances, not to mention the endless strings of tinsel and lights wrapped around almost every building, shopping centre, house and tree. Maybe your To-Do List has tripled in size, with presents to buy, food to make, people to see, and holidays to organise.

I wonder if you, like me, feel oddly comforted by these signs that signal the coming of Christmas.

The signs that point to Christmas – the tinsel, the tree, the lights – these are dwarfed by the signs that pointed to the first Christmas. Three wise men saw a star that led them to a baby in a manger. Some shepherds in a field saw an angel who announced the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, where they then looked for him and found him.

And the birth of Jesus is itself a sign – an extraordinary event that signalled that something out of the ordinary was happening. His birth lifts our sights to something secure and enduring.

There is a line in the beautiful old Christmas Carol ‘O Holy Night’ that says,

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn

Though the carol was written in 1847, it can feel as though the words were written for us, here in 2020. We are a weary world especially this year, and we need this hope, this joy, this ‘new and glorious morn’. All these are found in Jesus. When we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are celebrating the hope of ‘a new and glorious morn’ in which the weary world can rejoice.

I want to wish you and your loved ones the thrill of a hope-filled Christmas this year.