Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog in these last days of Advent.
The great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo, in his Christmas sermons to the people of Hippo was fond of referring to the birth of Christ as the Eternal Day entering our temporal day.
The Evangelist John in his magnificent gospel prologue spoke of God’s Word as ‘the light which shines in the darkness, which the darkness could not overpower’ (John 1:5).<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/80385895″>Advent Series Promo – Light in the Darkness</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/southridgefellowship”>Southridge Fellowship</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
As we in our part of the world experience a real diminishment of light at this time of the year, it is helpful to view the great feast of Christmas as the in-breaking of divine light into our darkened world. We are celebrating the birth of him who would later describe himself as the light of the world.
One of almighty God’s most powerful acts as recorded in Genesis is the creation of light and its separation from darkness. Light is wholesome, heartening, and allows us to see where we are going.
Can we allow ourselves once more at this sacred time to be bathed in the light of Christ, whose teaching guides our steps through life until we come to eternal light?
Christmas lights and colourful decorations presently adorn our homes and streets adding a note of cheer in the midst of winter darkness. Yet the decorations eventually have to come down and the lights stored away for another year, but the light of Christ is different and burns brightly the year around.
Despite the busy shopping and seasonal exchange of cards and gifts, Christmas can for many be a lonely time. It may be that families find themselves separated by distance, or have memories of those now no longer alive and with whom they enjoyed many past Christmases together.
Perhaps Christmas can also be a lonely time because of ill-health, separation or the frailty of old age, or on account of some other personal sadness or tragedy. Or it just can happen that people find themselves alone on Christmas Day.
The real truth of the Christmas story however is to be found not just in the memory of a child being born two thousand years ago, but in that child’s enduring presence among us, whatever our personal situation may be.
In the Annunciation to Joseph, (Matthew 1:18-25), we find mention of the name Emmanuel which in Hebrew means God-with-us. From this time forward God was now going to be with us in his Son whose birth from the Virgin Mary we are recalling.
A divine light has now come into the world which will never be extinguished. The Eternal Day has indeed entered our temporal day so that no believer may ever again be in the darkness.
As happened to those first shepherds near Bethlehem long ago, may something of that heavenly light shine on each one of us this Christmastide!
As ever in Christ our Lord,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster