In the stillness and darkness of the night, the Word became flesh. Christ was born into the poverty of the stable at Bethlehem and laid in a manger, the feeding trough for animals. The angels sang of the message of peace, ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to all people of good will’. This song echoes across the ages as we gather to celebrate Christmas again this year.
Speaking to young people on his recent visit to Bangladesh, Pope Francis said that there are many young men and women who are ’growing up in a fragile world that cries out for wisdom’. Many circumstances add to making this world a fragile place: the missiles of North Korea, tweets fired off that create tensions between peoples, Brexit (what does it mean?), and many economic uncertainties. Many people long to hear again the message of peace and find hope. Christ is the answer to this search for Wisdom and he invites us to listen to his voice and follow him who is the bread of life.
This feast invites us to trust in the Christ-Child and pray for the time when swords will be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, when nation shall not lift up sword against nation and war will be no more. We dream of this day and seek to catch glimpses of his kingdom. On the recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we stood and prayed for peace at the wall of separation in Bethlehem. We look forward to the day when walls will be replaced by bridges built on justice and bringing forth God’s peace.
On Christmas Day in the little town of Bethlehem, elderly, isolated widows are brought together at St Martha’s House to sing, dance and share food together. There we see a sign of the hope of which we sing this Christmas.
Bishop John led this year’s diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The pilgrims visited St Martha’s House, a day centre for elderly widows, while they were in Bethlehem