RSS Feed

Bishop Richard's Weekly video Message - Transcript 21.12.2023

Video for December 21st, 2023

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s video and a very happy Christmas.

In court, juries are usually suspicious if all the witnesses come up with the same story. They have to weigh up the accounts alongside the barrister’s arguments to decide where the truth lies. In most situations it’s remarkable how diverse peoples’ perceptions of events can be.  How can two different people experience the same thing and come to such different conclusions about what has gone on? But such variation adds to the credibility of a story.

The Christmas story in the Bible is a classic example of this.  The events are examined from a variety of different angles.  Different witnesses provided the source material for the Gospel writers to distil their accounts. We have the angle of the shepherds, wise men, and probably Mary and Joseph themselves as they relayed it to others. Alongside that, we have the first commentators trying to make sense of it all, seeing connections with ancient writings that seemed to predict the whole thing hundreds of years previously. In the centre of the story is Mary, a teenaged peasant girl, who finds herself inexplicably pregnant.

Her response to her experience shows us what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The angel gives her the sketchiest outline of what is about to happen and its personal implications. Her response is, “may it be unto me as you have said.” She is confronted with the reality of God.  She cannot deny her experience. Her answer is, “yes, now what is the question!” For the great heroes of Christian faith this seems to be a repeating pattern. Isaiah sees the glory of God in a vision and says, “here am I send me.” Paul had a bruising encounter with the Lord on the Damascus road. He is told to go and wait before he will be told what to do, and goes without question.

You could describe it as a leap in the dark, but its not done with a lack of knowledge. We Christians are just responding to something we passionately believe to be true on the best of historical evidence. The story of Jesus’, life death and resurrection is not intended to be taken as a fairy tale or a metaphor to explain deeper truths. It is a story of a life in history that changes the world and can change us if we let him. It is the story of Emmanuel, God with us. Confronted with this reality we cannot live as if it isn’t the turning point of history. St. James in his letter said, “faith without works is dead.” His is an abrupt challenge to us.  Faith in Jesus Christ is always personal but never private. Faith in Jesus Christ changes our relationship with God, but it also changes our relationship with the world around us.

Mary’s ‘yes’ to God is the exemplar of discipleship.  As we move into the year of faith we all have the ongoing task of deciding what our ‘yes’ to the Lord Jesus should be.  This is never just a personal decision solely concerning eternal destiny.  We are saved from something for something.  We live in a broken, violent world and we’re called to live our lives as salt and light in that world. We shouldn’t be preoccupied with our own concerns or even the concerns of the Church. Current world events could lead us to despair but the cumulative effect of many Christian acts of obedience can change things.  Our prayer, our giving, our life choices can all make a difference.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and amidst the familiarity a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ. As this year draws to a close and we look forward to 2024, what is the Lord calling you and me to do in response to his love shown in the baby in a remote corner of an ancient empire? Jesus Christ the real hope of the world.

+ Richard

Powered by Church Edit