Here are my Christmas messages for this year.
Naturally, both messages reflect on the pandemic, our response and the way it has affected us all.
In the video Christmas message (which is available in Welsh as well), I talk to Rev Andrew Sully, who has been a hospital chaplain at Ysbyty Gwynedd over the recent months.
Closed Captions (subtitles) are available by using the button ‘CC’ or via the settings ‘cog’ on Facebook.
Please do share and use these messages and a blessèd Christmas to you all!
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Christmas Message 2020
A year ago few of us would have imagined we would mark Christmas with the shadow of a virus hanging over much of our world. Fewer of us still would know what Zoom was beyond something to do with speed or haste. So much has changed in the last twelve months that predicting what the outcome might be is as uncertain as the arrival of the pandemic which has taken so many lives and left communities feeling isolated and troubled. The cost to the economy has been enormous and the well-being of the country has possibly suffered even more.
This would sound bleak beyond redemption were it not for the imminent arrival of a vaccine which promises a brighter future. What the new normal will involve remains unclear but this is a period about which books will be written long into the future.
I have been conscious of those who have sought ways to bring hope and kindness to those most at risk such as the elderly, those in hospital or carers. We will all remember the Thursday Clap which allowed us to thank NHS workers for their extraordinary work facing what seemed like a crisis to end all crises. There were others too who ensured medication was safely delivered, that contact was maintained with the more frail and marginalized in society. The capacity of human compassion to overflow into creative action has reminded us that we might seem powerless but this is not the case. What has seemed dark and foreboding has invited a level of practical care and support we haven’t seen for several generations.
The first part of the Christmas story may resonate with many of us as a consequence. Put aside the mental pictures of a gentle nativity scene at the crib. This is a story of God in the thick of life with all its challenges and complexities: it’s a story of how God enters into the chaos, born to a disorientated couple struggling to make sense of what this unexpected child could mean. In time, they and others came to realise that by stepping into this world, God was holding out an invitation to all humanity to connect with his transforming light and life.
The second part of the Christmas story is more about our own response. If we are tempted to fear and despair we can respond to God’s open invitation to bring us hope. If we are tempted to feel powerless, God’s offer is to transform every heart and mind. This is the power of Christmas, which is the power of God to bring the world a light which never fades and life which is everlasting.
Bishop Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor