Mere Anglicanism

Christmas message from the Bishop of Hereford

“I wish it could be Christmas every day.”

The words of the familiar song blared out across the station.

“Well I wish it could be Christmas every day When the kids start singing and the band begins to play.

Oh, I wish it could be Christmas every day So let the bells ring out for Christmas.”

I enjoyed it. The mood of the music was just right in the runup to Christmas.

I am not sure, though, I would have wanted to hear it this week.

I was reminded of people who are sometimes featured in the news and who keep their Christmas decorations up all the year and have a turkey dinner every day.

Well, each to their own, but it doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t actually wish it could be Christmas every day.

But there is a sense in which it is, thankfully, Christmas every day. One of the names given to Jesus is Immanuel, as in “They will call him Immanuel, which means God with us.” And that does apply every day.

As I look back on the last year, I reflect on the enormous significance of “God with us” in good times and bad. Whatever your circumstances – rejoicing in lots that is positive, or carrying all sorts of worries and difficulties – it is the Christmas message of “God with us” that I believe offers reassurance, hope and encouragement for the future.

There is much that is pretty worrying in the world at the moment – in Europe, USA, the Middle East, you name it, everywhere there is turmoil.

But the truth is that there has never been a Christmas when the message of “God with us” has not come into a turbulent world.

Indeed, Christmas started when Jesus came into a world which was no more peaceful and straightforward than ours is today. Being “God with us” was not something he did from a safe distance. As the carol puts it: “And he feeleth for our sadness, and he shareth in our gladness.”

Jesus is described in the bible as “the image of the invisible God”.

You want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus – at his birth as a baby and then at his life and death, and we begin to see true strength coming through weakness, gaining coming through losing, in short, love conquering all.

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