Bishop Debbie’s Christmas 2022 message

Bishop Debbie’s Christmas 2022 message

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Dear Friends,

I wonder if like me you look forward to the TV adverts at Christmas time? I’ve been interested to notice the tone of this year’s adverts, which are a bit different to normal. There’s one famous store that has chosen to tell a story about a middle aged man who is learning to skateboard, not because he wants to buy the best skateboard, but because he wants to get ready to welcome a foster child into his home.

It’s interesting to stop and think: why this message this year? And as we look back over 2022 we realise that this has been quite a difficult year. We faced the death of Her Majesty and all the uncertainty that brought about, we’ve seen the war in Ukraine start and sadly continue to this day, and we’ve seen a huge cost of living increase and we are aware of so many people in need. So perhaps it’s not the year for adverts which encourage us to go out and buy more and more.

As Christians, we can welcome in Christmas while holding on to the knowledge that we live in a broken world, because we know that Jesus came to live amongst us and to share in the sadness, the poverty, the things that are wrong in our world. And it’s into that broken world that Jesus arrives: Emmanuel, God with us, the Christ-child, born in a stable, the child who would himself become a refugee and know the reality of what it means to live in world that is broken. God with us, in the midst of all we are experiencing.

And if we look at Luke’s gospel and his account of the Christmas story, we see it is shepherds who were first told the good news of Jesus – shepherds who lived on the edge of society, who were considered unclean because they worked with animals, shepherds who would have found it difficult to be in the temple – and yet they came face to face with Jesus. Jesus who came to live amongst them in their place in this world.

I’ve had a huge privilege over this past year to get out and about and see what our churches have been doing to respond to the need. Many have welcome refugees from Ukraine, many helped towards packages that have gone out to other countries like Poland that were meeting the Ukrainians as they left the country. And also the ways in which churches are responding to the cost of living is phenomenal – many looking at what it means to offer a warm space, to say ‘come here and enjoy fellowship and be warm’, many others are offering food banks and marketplaces, so that people can come with dignity and have enough food to eat.

This Christmas, we acknowledge the brokenness of our world, but we rejoice that Jesus came amongst us to live in that brokenness, and in doing so to show something about who God is, to give glimpses of his kingdom to come, and to show us that there is another way, so we can live with hope.

My prayer this Christmas is that all those who draw near to Jesus will receive his love, that they will know that Jesus understands who they are, that He knows their situation and comes close to them in whatever place they find themselves in. Emmanuel, God is with us.

Yours in Christ,

+ Debbie