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A Christmas message from the Bishop of Warrington
8:00am Wednesday 25th December 2013 in News
Christianity is messy - and Jesus was born into the mess and confusion of a humble stable.
One of the memorable highlights of leading the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October was our visit to the birthplace of Jesus.
It required a wait of over two hours queuing in a crowded church, which was not in particularly good repair because the three Christian denominations in charge of it can’t agree on its upkeep. Frankly, it’s a mess.
Like Bethlehem today: you can’t get in except through the brutal wall, erected in 2004, evidence that this is an occupied town just like the one in which Jesus was born. “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!”
Appearances can be deceptive, as we saw when we visited a UN Refugee Camp in the heart of Bethlehem itself.
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Once a year, we dare to dream and to wonder “How silently, silently, the wondrous gift is given!”
It is in the unlikeliest of places and times that God chooses to act. “No ear may hear his coming; but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
At Bethlehem, after waiting for so long in the Church of the Nativity, we finally descended to the birthplace of Jesus and knelt to touch the place where the holy child of Bethlehem descended to us. “Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today” I prayed.
May we hear again, in simplicity and humility, the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell and sing our joyful response: “O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.” I wish you a peaceful and joyful Christmas.
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