Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Christmas message from the Bishop of Newcastle

Like many people this autumn, I went to see the film ‘I, Daniel Blake.’

It tells the story of an ordinary Geordie, a proud carpenter, Daniel, who can’t work following a heart attack.  It’s a story about what happens when people get caught up in an impersonal system, a profoundly sad story – but I came out of the cinema feeling deeply moved. 

Because there is another powerful story, too – a story of the remarkable kindness of the strangers Daniel encounters –like the young mum, Katie and her children, or Ann the benefits adviser, or the real-life volunteers at the foodbank in one of our church halls.  It’s the kindness of strangers that enables Daniel to claim the full dignity of a man who deserves respect.

The Christmas story also tells of the kindness of strangers.  When Mary and Joseph find themselves in an overcrowded Bethlehem, the kindness of a stranger, we assume, finds them a place where Mary can give birth.  Strangers from the east later bring them costly gifts.  Later still the Holy Family are forced to flee to another country – where they will again rely on the kindness of strangers.

Christmas is a time to reflect on the kindness of strangers – and especially God’s kindness – a God who cares about us so much that he came to be one of us, one with us in our struggles and joys. Inspired by God’s love, may we too show Christ-like kindness to strangers.

May the peace, joy, and kindness of the Christ-Child be yours this Christmas.

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