Bishop James Christmas Message

The Bishop of Rochester

Christmas Message


Last Christmas, I reflected on ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ and urged you to pray for the communities of the Holy Land and surrounding nations.  And sadly this year, I find myself repeating that urging – the need for God’s gifts of peace and goodwill in those and other places is greater than ever.

But let me add another line from that carol: ‘So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.’  At Christmas we celebrate and proclaim that in Jesus everything we think of as ‘heaven’ breaks into our human experience.  ‘Heaven’ is about the close presence of God, and Jesus offers us the way into knowing that presence in our own lives.  ‘Heaven’ is about a life of joy and contentment, and Jesus offers us that experience now.  ‘Heaven’ is about the full coming of God’s justice and peace, and Jesus makes real that possibility.

Of course it is true that we do not in this life experience these things in full and final form.  But our Christian faith is that these gifts of God may begin to be reality for us and for the world – we may have a foretaste, a first instalment.  And this comes as Christ Jesus is ‘born in us today’.  This Christmas, may God impart afresh to us his wondrous gift and the blessings of his heaven.


+James, Bishop of Rochester

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