In his first Christmas message as the new Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Peter Collins looks at good news that enlightens a world threatened by darkness.
Once more we celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ. This is my first Christmas in your midst as Bishop of East Anglia. Together we rejoice to hear the proclamation of the angel: “today in the town of David, Bethlehem in Judea, a saviour has been born to you.”
In all humility, we accompany the shepherds and approach the stable. We encounter Mary and Joseph, then, kneeling in adoration, we behold the Christ child, enveloped in swaddling clothes as he lay in the manger. We adore thee, o Christ, and we praise thee. Here we behold the good news that enlightens the whole world, bringing fulfilment to the prophetic message proclaimed by Isaiah of old: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.”
Our world is ever threatened by darkness. As a global community, we recognise that the balance of our environment is being lost; the stability of the international order is undermined by the violence of warfare; the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters is jeopardised by widespread injustice, malicious intent and selfish indulgence.
We are all facing the challenges of economic hardship. We are all experiencing uncertainty as we strive to chart our future course. We can all ask the question: “Where is the light to be found?”
Once there rose a star in the east which guided the wise towards the source of all light. We profess and proclaim that the divine word made flesh was, and is, the true light that enlightens all people. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, with the spiritual acceptance and loving embrace of the blessed Virgin Mary, the only-begotten son of the eternal father came into our midst. In absolute humility he was, and is, embedded in the world, embedded in our hearts.
This child will grow to his maturity and he calls us to accompany him. We are invited to undertake the journey of our lives in his company. There will be days of joy and there will be days of sacrifice. It will be His ultimate sacrifice that will lead us all to glory. Only when we are bathed in the light of His resurrection can we begin to comprehend our own existence and our eternal destiny.
As we celebrate Christmas, we are charged with a great responsibility. We are called to be ‘heralds of peace’. This Christmas, let us recognise how interconnected we are, how interconnected is our world.
From all points of the compass – north, south, east and west – the human family is drawn together in Christ. The child in the manger will become the man upon the cross, offering the embrace of his love to the whole world. As heralds of peace, let us embrace one and all.
“Glory to god in the highest heaven and peace to all people who enjoy his favour.”
I wish you a blessed, joyful and peaceful Christmas.