Christmas messages from around the Anglican Communion
Christmas Message from +Colin R. Johnson Bishop of Toronto
We live in very challenging times and are confronted by so many things that can easily get in the way of our Christian journeys.
In Luke's Gospel we read about others' journeys: the faith, confidence and courage of a young woman and her devoted and caring spouse. The story is well known.
Mary, visited by an angel, was told that she would bear a son, God's Son. Mary's response moved from initial bewilderment to awe and utmost trust in God and what he was inviting her to do for him and all of human kind. Of course, she was concerned that she and Joseph were not yet married and that she was being asked to have a child. She would have wondered what people would say – no, she would have known! – but she was prepared to trust God in what God planned for her.
Joseph, too, was confused and very alarmed that Mary was going to have a child. He was ready to sever his relationship with her privately to spare her from at least some humiliation. Guided by God not to abandon her, Joseph remained attentive and cared for Mary.
Circumstances were difficult. A new law required them to travel a distance from their Nazareth home to register in Bethlehem for a Roman census. Pregnant, about to give birth, weary from travelling so far, they could find no suitable place where the child could be born. Eventually they had to settle for a stable. How disheartening it must have been! How at odds with the angelic announcement! Was it all wishful thinking?
We see, however, in Mary and Joseph deep faith and unconditional trust in their God. Their son was born in very humble surroundings. They allowed neither the risk of scandal nor the long journey nor the disappointing accommodations for the birth to their child to get in the way of God's purpose. Justifiable anger and resentment were trumped by their willingness to trust God and God's plan for them, their child and the world.
How prepared are we to trust God's purpose for our lives even in the face of uncertainty and hardship? How open are we even to believe that God does have a purpose for our life?
Mary and Joseph were ordinary human beings in difficult times, yet creatively responsive to God and the new thing, still confusing and not fully disclosed, that God was about to do. Their story can be our story. They show us how to cope faithfully with the many challenges that we face day by day. They made the journey that God asked them to undertake both physically and (perhaps even more taxing) of the imagination and of the heart. In these times of economic challenge, uncertainty and potential for despair, I encourage you to be like Mary and Joseph: look ahead with confidence and hope that God is in our midst and ever present in whatever life circumstances we find ourselves. Christmas proclaims the fact that God is with us – 'Our Emmanuel' – and God promises to be with us always to give us and all creation life in full abundance.
May you and your loved ones have a blessed and happy Christmas and enjoy peace in the new Year of our Lord.
+Colin R. Johnson
Bishop of Toronto
Christmas Message from James R. Mathes Bishop of San Diego
Dear People of God,
There is something disarming about receiving Jesus as a child wrapped in cloth. To be sure, babies will cry when hungry but their innocence and beauty is irresistible. The story of Jesus' birth is so filled with miracle and wonder that it only adds to the idyllic sense of this time.
In the collect for Christmas, we pray that we will "joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge." If we are spiritually aware, naming this newborn our Redeemer and Judge will jolt us into a fuller sense of our Christian understanding and our calling as followers of Jesus. The baby will grow up to be the One who changes us completely. The world and those of us who inhabit it are in need of being made new. We are not what God would have us to be. And the one who is born in poverty will judge the world.
Christ's redeeming and judging are inextricably connected. Through love we are redeemed, made new and claimed as Christ's own forever. We are judged by how much we look for Christ and serve Christ in others, especially the poor and oppressed. In the end, we will find our redemption and new life as we seek Jesus in the poor. That lowly stable gives us a good idea of where to go.
May the Christ who is both Judge and Redeemer fill you with His grace in this holy and joyful season.
James R. Mathes
Bishop of San Diego
Christmas Message from +Bishop Michael New Westminster
Christmas, at its deepest level, is about God making a home in the world. It's not simply about shepherds and angels and lights on the tree. It's about the mysterious coming together of different dimensions of reality that, to all rational thought, ought mutually to exclude each other.
Here is the intellectual dilemma. How can the finite and the infinite co-exist in the same moment and in the same place? If you think of transcendence as that aspect of reality beyond scientific inspection, if you think of it as that dimension not bounded by time and space and other natural limitations, then how can it enter time and space and be subject to the very conditions to which it does not conform?
To put it simply, how can a glass of water hold an entire ocean? How can the human withstand the sudden arrival of the divine? How can a unit of energy withstand the infusion of limitless energy like, say, a light bulb plugged into the power of a supernova?
For this is what Christmas claims. That God entered the world in the form of the child Jesus. God so loved the world that the Creator of the universe took human flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. It's an astonishing claim when you think about it. It brings together two intellectually irreconcilable things: the created and the uncreated, time and infinity. Christmas claims that at a single point in human history that which lies beyond time and space became intimately connected with us.
Now this, of course, may not be the problem you wake up with every morning. What have these abstract questions got to do with the daily struggles of life, with finding a job, paying the mortgage, coping with global warming, financial meltdowns, or figuring out what's happening to your relationships? Well, the answer is—everything.
Christianity claims that God is present in everything. God is not outside anything. There is no particle of existence from which God is absent. To put this another way, Christianity is a material religion. Christians believe that matter matters. And this has several important consequences.
First, it means the world is a place of meaning. The cosmos in which we live is not the result of a random collision of molecules in space. It's not accidental. The cosmos has purpose, meaning and intention, and we have a role in it. We discern its meaning and we also shape its meaning. We are its products and we also have a great capacity to determine its outcome. That means we have a spiritual connection to the planet. We are not merely bystanders. We are not ourselves accidental. The very purpose of our lives is deeply connected to the life of the world.
If we belonged to a religion that taught, as some do, that matter is mere illusion, that time and space are without significance, then there would be no impetus, for example, towards things like science. Why spend time investigating a dimension of existence that has no meaning?
But because we believe matter matters, we also believe scientific discovery is important in the search for meaning. This is why those Christians who are opposed to scientific knowledge have not actually understood the implication of God's incarnation in Jesus.
We have a spiritual connection to the world, because God has entered it, and God has placed truth in the world for our scientific discovery, just as God has placed truth in the world for our spiritual discovery. And the two kinds of truth have the same source. Science and religion are not in conflict. Only bad religion and bad science conflict with each other.
This means that science and social science—and what they have to say about our world and its origin and composition, what they have to say about economics, biology, human life and social relationships—are relevant to Christian faith. They are part of the world God inhabits and infuses with spiritual meaning.
Second, we have an ethical obligation towards the world. It's not simply self-interest that requires us to look after the planet on which we depend for our lives. You don't need to be ethical to do that. A moral connection to the world means that we care. We care because God loves this creation, God is part of this creation, and our love for God is the prime motivating factor in our political and social action.
And we engage in politics and social change as Christians precisely because our moral obligation toward the world compels us to do so. We see poverty as an evil, not simply an inconvenience. We see racism and anti-semitism and human trafficking and child degradation and homophobia as interlocking oppressions, as part of the systemic corruption of the human condition, not simply as unforeseen tragedies about which we can do nothing.
If we believed that the human body were simply an outward shell, a mere container for the soul, then it would have no value for us. But because of Christmas we do not. At Christmas God entered our flesh through Jesus, and so the finite body became infused with the infinite value and beauty of God, and therefore the condition of every man, woman and child is of political and moral significance to us.
If this is true, then human worth has something to do with God's appearing in the world in Jesus Christ. And it follows that the spiritual life is not about becoming detached from the world but becoming more engaged. Engaged in the struggle with poverty, engaged in the promotion of dignity, engaged in the eradication of interlocking oppressions, engaged in environmental responsibility, and engaged as well in our own appropriate self-care.
Because it's not simply other people God loves. It's also you and me. It's not just humanity that God cares about. It's you—your life, your health, your spirit, your mind and happiness, and those of all you love.
If you are the glass of water, the finite container, then the ocean of God's love has also entered you. The grace of God has been poured out upon you, and this is a gift of such unimaginable beauty that the only proper response is joy. Because God thinks you and me, and all of us, are so colossally worthwhile that infinite grace is now part of us, unconditional love is inseparable from us—this single fact changes everything.
The Word became flesh, says the Gospel of John, and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory .. full of grace and truth. And because of that, dear friends, Christians rejoice with a deep and thankful joy. And we commit ourselves not just to contemplation—but to action.
+Bishop Michael New Westminster
Christmas Message from +John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds England
Although it is a Christmas favourite, "In the bleak midwinter" is a carol which for many will have a particularly bitter taste this winter. Many face 2009 with financial fear of a bleak future. It may be the worry and uncertainty of unemployment, or mortgage repayments that cannot be met, or high fuel bills.
It is into this world that Jesus comes. In the centre of Leeds, among the shops and bright lights, you will find a manger with Mary and the baby. Mixed in with the enjoyment, and the fear, there is Jesus. Another carol many of us will sing this Christmas goes 'how silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven'. In the bleakest of winters there is hope.
Christianity speaks of a God involved in our human tensions and worries. For many, uppermost, is the financial crisis. Jesus came in poverty to the manger in Bethlehem. He was born not in a comfortable house but in a cave. So he gives us peace as we share our concerns with him. We need to share our own worries about debt, rather than hiding them and pretending they will go away. We need to be on the look out to support those facing redundancy – never has neighbourliness been more important. We also need to remember those in worse conditions than ourselves. Overseas charities especially have suffered in the credit crunch. Those in Zimbabwe and the Congo, for example, need our support more than ever.
Secondly, we live at a time of global tension. Jesus came to a broken world. The Bethlehem of his birth was an occupied town. This year I went, for the first time, to Bethlehem. A group of us celebrated Holy Communion in the Shepherds' field, within sight of the dividing wall between Israeli and Palestinian in the land of Christ's birth. It brought home to me the need to continue to pray for those damaged by our inhumanity – and especially those in the Middle East. We have heard less in recent months of the fragility of peace in the Middle East. Relationships between communities there are precarious. We need to pray for a renewal of the search for peace there. So long as there is no peace in the Holy Land there will be no peace in the world.
Thirdly, Jesus speaks to those who are rejected. Jesus began his life as a refugee, driven to Egypt to seek asylum. We pray especially at Christmas for those driven from their homes and countries, and especially at present for the Congo. We offer our own care for those who have come to Yorkshire, and pray that ours may be cities and towns of welcome. In one nativity play the young inn-keeper cast aside the script and said, 'You can have my bed, Joseph'. That welcome to the Christ-child must inform our welcome to the stranger, the rejected.
Christ gives us a challenge this Christmas, to pray for our broken world and welcome and support those damaged by that brokenness. He also offers us his gift of himself. He knows what it is like. He is the light in the darkness, and he is always there with his love in the bleakest winter.
+John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds England
Christmas Message from Bishop Geoffrey Rowell Diocese of Europe
St Luke tells us at the end of his story of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem that his mother Mary 'kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.' (Luke 2.19) This is what as Christians we do year by year, as, in the familiar words of Bishop Phillips Brooks' much loved Christmas hymn, 'the dark night wakes, the Glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.' The Greek word which St Luke uses to speak of Mary's deep and reflective meditation is sumballo, from which we get our word 'symbol'. Mary both keeps and holds on to the amazing and overwhelming reality of God's action and presence in and through her motherhood, and imaginatively reflects upon it, going deeper and deeper into the meaning of what this birth and this child, of which she is so intimately a part, is about. She 'ponders in her heart', and the heart in the Bible is not primarily the place of feeling, but of willing and of choosing. Her deep reflection is to shape her life, and brings her to the foot of the cross, and to be part of the worshipping and expectant community, as Luke tells us in Acts, awaiting the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.
The angel had said to Mary in the moment of annunciation that 'the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you' and therefore the child she was to bear would be called 'the Son of God.' And so Mary became, in the words of another ancient Christian hymn, 'the gate of Heaven's High Lord, the door through which the Light has poured.' When Jacob in the ancient story in Genesis lay down in a desert place and dreamed of a ladder set between heaven and earth with the angels of God ascending and descending upon it, he woke up exclaiming, 'this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!' if this was true of the place of Jacob's dream, even more is it true of the Mother of the Lord and Christian devotion has not hesitated to speak of Mary as the temple of God, the ark of the covenant, and the gate of heaven.
Mary, the 'Christ-bearer' reflected deeply and imaginatively on what Jesus meant, and she has been seen as an image, a picture of the church, which likewise reflects on and lives out the meaning of the God who so comes among us. The great movements of renewal in Christian history have come about through a return to what the Scriptures tell us. We have to realise over and over again how great and how overwhelming is the reality of God's love which always comes down to the lowest part of our need, as it came in Mary's child at Bethlehem.
Many years ago J.B. Phillips, one of the first translators of the Bible into contemporary English, wrote a book with the title, Your God is too small. He was right then, and is right now. Our human tendency is to domesticate God, to make God in our own image, to shape him by the culture and expectations of our own day, But the Gospel message of Christmas – and of Good Friday and Easter from which that Christmas message is inseparable – is of a love that goes to the uttermost and will never let us down and will never let us go. This is the 'amazing grace' of Evangelical conversion; this is the same grace which we receive and adore in the holy and blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. As John Betjeman put it simply, 'God was man in Palestine, and lives today in Bread and Wine' – and so in our hearts, in our willing and our choosing, in our transformed lives as we like Mary live out our vocation as 'Christ-bearers'. St John said of the Word of God who became flesh, that the light shone in the darkness and the darkness was not able to overwhelm it, to snuff it out. The light of Christ in us is to shine in the darkness – the darkness of human fear, and violence, and the sinful distortions of deception and betrayal. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God with us, God in the muck and the mess (and the stench) of a stable at Bethlehem; God as a fragile, new-born child laid in the pricking straw of a rough feeding-trough; God in the mess of our world, a world both beautiful and distorted. At Christmas also we celebrate our own new birth, the Christ born in us. And so we rightly sing and pray:
O holy child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
May the God who came to us at Bethlehem to take us by the hand, surround you and renew you with his love, and light, and grace, that you, like blessed Mary, may know his peace and joy this Christmas and in the year ahead.
With every blessing,
Christmas Message from Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan
One of the daily papers, this month, had a feature on different ways to cook poultry under the title “Five Birds by Five Chefs”. I must confess I hadn’t heard of three of the chefs but that says more about me than about them. The sub text, of course, was “how to cook to perfection for Christmas”. And of course all the hype in the run-up to today is about the ingredients for having a perfect Christmas – cards posted to all the people you know in time; the house immaculately and tastefully decorated and exactly the right present for exactly the right person and all beautifully wrapped a few days before the feast. TV adverts picture perfect families in perfect contentment around a warm and cosy fire with a Christmas tree in the background.
Even some of the carols we sing seem to portray pictures of perfection. Take “Away in a Manger” – it’s a lullaby and the writer paints a picture of the baby Jesus surrounded by animals in a stable. In fact, such a perfect nativity scene that the writer does not want it spoiled by anything ordinary so he, or is it she, (no, on reflection it has got to be a he), writes, “the cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes”. A baby who doesn’t cry - there’s something abnormal about that and any mother would be worried – that’s why I think the writer was a man. Or take the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. The writer paints a picture of a quiet and peaceful city. Yet we know that Bethlehem has never enjoyed that peace and tranquillity. At the time of Jesus’ birth, it was an occupied city which we are told was so full and busy, that Mary and Joseph failed to find a bed for the night. Today, it is a city that is torn by violence and uncertainty and that awful wall. Bethlehem is not a perfect town and it has never been such.
In one sense of course it is understandable that we want to try and paint a perfect picture of Christmas – it’s why the Bing Crosby song, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” is so popular. It points to an idyllic kind of world where everything is in place and all is well – perfect weather for a perfect season where we all enjoy wonderful food, presents that we want against a background of a perfect holy family sitting in total contentment in a stable that bears no relationship at all to any stable that I have ever come across.
And then Nigella Lawson, of domestic goddess fame, goes and spoils it all. She says that she would be happy to settle for chips and curry sauce over the festive period because, she says, many women feel under pressure to produce the perfect Christmas. “It’s ok”, she said, “to just string a few fairy lights over the mantelpiece and order in a pizza – don’t succumb to the pressure of perfection”.
While it may be too late for you this year to go for the Nigella Lawson solution, she has, in fact, highlighted a profound theological truth, perhaps unwittingly. Christmas is not about perfection, viewed either from the human or divine perspective. It is not about a baby, born in pristine condition, into a perfect world. It is about God in Christ coming into a messy world, precisely because it is all messed up. And the trouble with us is that we are so hooked on looking for perfection, that we are in danger of failing to understand the true significance of this feast.
So the “X Factor” judges regard as total rubbish anyone who is less than perfect in their eyes as they search for a flawless performance. “Strictly Come Dancing” judges couldn’t cope with John Sargeant because he couldn’t dance perfectly and never claimed to and “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” looks for a flawless celebrity able to withstand all kinds of humiliations without blinking an eyelid. T.V. shows reinforce this image of perfection that we seem to long for.
But this feast is about God’s love for the world as it actually is, not how He would like it to be nor how we would like it to be. Jesus was born in occupied Palestine, a country that had been crushed by many foreign nations and was now occupied by the Romans and they were harsh occupiers. He was born to poor people at the very edge of that vast Roman Empire. He spent his time, not in beautiful places or with beautiful people but with people whose lives were racked with pain, suffering, doubt and grief. He specialised in mixing with imperfect people judged imperfect because of their race, gender, health or religion – for as He Himself said, the healthy had no need of a doctor. He came to show God’s love for His world and those whom others found unloveable. He came to meet the world’s deepest fears and to answer its deepest longings. And it began in that Bethlehem stable where He was born, as we are all born, with all the tears and laughter, pain and joy, hope and uncertainty that accompanies the birth of any baby. Christmas is not about escapism into some perfect world – it is about the real world, God dealing with the world as it is where so much is wrong, where there is so much pain, suffering and anguish.
As then, so now. God loves this world as it is in all its brokenness – the awfulness of unresolved conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan; the desperation of Zimbabweans as they struggle against a tyrannical President; the trauma of all affected by the atrocities at Mumbai, the despair of the Congo on the brink of civil war; the hardship faced by many poor people because of the credit crunch.
God, of course, cannot wave a magic wand and make it all go away – that only happens in fairy tales – but what He does is to come among us as He did in Jesus and assures us that he shoulders our burdens alongside us. He is to be found amidst the poor, marginalised and distressed, supporting and upholding them with His love. Through Jesus, He shows us and reminds us of what it is like to be truly human, living out a life of compassion, solidarity and love and refusing to use the weapons of retaliation and force. Through Jesus, he also shows us what divine love is like committed to this imperfect world and struggling to put it right. That’s what incarnation means.
Incarnation is also a call to service for those who believe in Jesus. Having been assured of the divine love we are asked to live out the divine love to the world about us. A gospel which assures us that God loves us in all our imperfections surely implies that we too are called to love and serve a world as imperfect as we are, simply because it is God’s world.
Pregeth Dydd Nadolig 2008
Y mis hwn yr oedd gan un o’r papurau dyddiol erthygl ar bum ffordd i goginio dofednod. Ei theitl oedd ‘Pump aderyn gan bum cogydd’. Rhaid imi gyfaddef nad oeddwn erioed wedi clywed am dri o’r cogyddion, ond mae hynny’n dweud mwy amdanaf fi nag amdanynt hwy. Y bwriad, wrth gwrs, oedd ‘coginio’n berffaith at y Nadolig’. Ac wrth gwrs yr oedd a wnelo’r holl gyhoeddusrwydd a fu’n arwain at heddiw â sut i gael Nadolig perffaith – cardiau wedi’u postio at bawb o’ch cydnabod mewn pryd, y t? wedi’u addurno’n hardd ac yn chwaethus, yr union anrhegion iawn i bawb, a’r rheini wedi’u lapio’n brydferth ychydig ddyddiau cyn y wledd. Dengys hysbysebion teledu deuluoedd perffaith yn berffaith fodlon eu byd o gwmpas tân braf a choeden Nadolig yn y cefndir.
Mae hyd yn oed rai o’r carolau y byddwn yn eu canu yn portreadu perffeithrwydd. ‘I Orwedd mewn Preseb’, er enghraifft: suo-gân yw hon, a’r bardd yn darlunio’r baban Iesu wedi’i amgylchynu gan anifeiliaid mewn stabl. Mewn gwirionedd, mae’r olygfa mor berffaith fel nad yw’r bardd am weld dim byd cyffredin yn amharu arni. Felly, mae ef, neu hi (nage, erbyn meddwl, mae’n rhaid mai dyn ydyw) yn ysgrifennu: ‘Mae’r gwartheg yn brefu, a’r baban ddeffroes, Ond i’r baban Iesu, un wylo nid oes’. Baban nad yw’n crio! Mae rhywbeth o’i le yngl?n â hynny, a byddai’n achos pryder i unrhyw fam. Dyna pam fy mod yn meddwl mai dyn oedd y bardd. A dyna ‘O dawel ddinas Bethlehem’ wedyn. Mae’r bardd yn darlunio dinas dawel a heddychlon. Ac eto fe wyddom nad yw Bethlehem erioed wedi mwynhau tawelwch a heddwch. Adeg geni Iesu roedd hi’n ddinas wedi’i meddiannu gan elynion, ac fe ddywedir wrthym ei bod hi mor llawn a phrysur fel na fedrodd Mair a Joseff gael gwely ynddi am y nos. Heddiw y mae’n ddinas a rwygwyd gan drais ac ansicrwydd, a chan y wal ofnadwy yna. Dyw Bethlehem ddim yn dref berffaith a dyw hi erioed wedi bod yn dref berffaith.
Ar un ystyr, wrth gwrs, mae’n ddealladwy ein bod ni am greu llun perffaith o’r Nadolig. Dyna pam bod cân Bing Crosby, ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’, mor boblogaidd. Mae’n darlunio rhyw fyd delfrydol lle y mae popeth yn ei le a phopeth yn iawn – tywydd perffaith at dymor perffaith pan fyddwn i gyd yn mwynhau bwyd perffaith, wedi derbyn yr anrhegion yr oedd arnom eu heisiau, a’r cyfan ar gefndir teulu sanctaidd perffaith yn eistedd yn llwyr fodlon mewn stabl nad yw’n ddim byd tebyg i unrhyw stabl a welais i erioed.
Ac yna mae’n rhaid i Nigella Lawson, y ‘dduwies ddomestig’ enwog, ddifetha’r cwbl. Dywed hi y byddai’n gwbl fodlon ar tships a saws cyrri dros yr ?yl, oherwydd, meddai hi, bod llawer o ferched yn teimlo dan bwysau i baratoi Nadolig perffaith. ‘Does dim byd o’i le,’ meddai, ‘ar osod rhyw ychydig o oleuadau Nadolig ar y silff ben tân ac archebu pizza – peidiwch ag ildio i bwysau ceisio perffeithrwydd’.
Hwyrach ei bod hi’n rhy hwyr i chwi eleni fabwysiadu ateb Nigella Lawson. Ond y mae hi, yn ddiarwybod iddi’i hun, efallai, wedi tanlinellu gwirionedd diwinyddol pwysig. Does a wnelo’r Nadolig, o safbwynt dynol na dwyfol, ddim â pherffeithrwydd. Does a wnelo’r ?yl ddim oll â geni baban perffaith i fyd perffaith. Y mae a wnelo â Duw yng Nghrist yn dod i fyd llawn cythrwfl, ac yn dod am yr union reswm mai byd cythryblus ydyw. A’n drwg ni yw ein bod ni mor benderfynol o geisio perffeithrwydd fel ein bod mewn perygl o fethu deall gwir arwyddocâd yr ?yl.
Felly, y mae’r beirniaid ar y rhaglen ‘X Factor’ yn ystyried yn sbwriel bawb sy’n llai na pherffaith yn eu barn wrth iddynt chwilio am berfformiad di-fefl. Doedd beirniaid ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ ddim yn gallu gwneud dim â John Sargeant am na allai ddawnsio’n berffaith, ac nad oedd erioed wedi honni ei fod yn gallu; ac y mae ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ yn chwilio am rywun enwog a fedr oddef gyda pherffeithrwydd bob math o waradwydd. Mae sioeau teledu yn cadarnhau’r ddelwedd o’r perffeithrwydd yr ydym oll yn ei geisio.
Ond y mae a wnelo’r ?yl hon â chariad Duw at y byd fel y mae mewn gwirionedd, nid fel yr hoffai ef na ninnau iddo fod. Ganwyd Iesu ym Mhalesteina, gwlad a gafodd ei gormesu gan lawer gelyn ac a oedd yn awr wedi’i meddiannu gan y Rhufeiniaid; a meistri caled oedd y rheini. Fe’i ganwyd i rieni tlawd ar ymylon eithaf Ymerodraeth fawr Rhufain. Treuliodd ei amser nid mewn lleoedd prydferth gyda phobl brydferth ond gyda phobl yr oedd eu bywydau’n llawn poen a dioddefaint, amheuon a galar. Ei arbenigrwydd oedd iddo gymysgu â phobl amherffaith, a fernid yn amherffaith oherwydd eu hil, eu rhyw, eu hiechyd, eu crefydd – oherwydd, fel y dywedodd ei hun, does ar y sawl sy’n iach ddim angen meddyg. Fe ddaeth i ddangos cariad Duw at ei fyd ac at y rhai hynny yr oedd eraill yn gwrthod eu caru. Fe ddaeth i gwrdd ag ofnau dyfnaf y byd ac i ateb ei anghenion dyfnaf. Ac fe ddechreuodd y cwbl yn y stabl hwnnw ym Methlehem lle y ganed ef, fel y genir pawb ohonom, gyda’r holl ddagrau a chwerthin, y boen a’r llawenydd, y gobaith a’r ansicrwydd sydd yngl?n â geni unrhyw faban. Does a wnelo’r Nadolig ddim oll â dianc i ryw fyd perffaith. Y mae a wnelo â’r byd real – Duw yn delio â’r byd fel y mae, y byd lle y mae cymaint o anghyfiawnder, cymaint o boen a dioddefaint a gofid.
Ac fel yr oedd, felly y mae. Mae Duw’n caru’r byd fel y mae, yn ei friwiau ei gyd – enbydrwydd y gwrthdaro nas datryswyd yn Iraq ac Affganistan; sefyllfa ddybryd pobl Zimbabwe wrth iddynt ymlafnio yn erbyn gorthrymwr o Arlywydd; trawma pawb yr effeithiwyd arnynt gan yr erchyllterau yn Mumbai, anobaith y Congo ar fin rhyfel cartref; y caledi y bydd llawer o bobl dlawd yn ei wynebu oherwydd y wasgfa arian.
Ni fedr Duw, wrth gwrs, chwifio ei hudlath a pheri i’r cwbl ddiflannu – dim ond mewn storïau tylwyth teg y digwydd hynny – ond yr hyn y mae yn ei wneud yw dod i’n plith, fel y daeth yn Iesu a’n sicrhau ei fod yn ysgwyddo’r baich gyda ni. Fe’i ceir ymhlith y tlawd, y sawl sydd ar ymylon cymdeithas, y sawl sydd mewn gofid, yn eu cynnal â’i gariad. Trwy Iesu y mae’n dangos inni beth yw gwir ystyr bod yn aelod o ddynolryw, yn byw bywyd o drugaredd a chydymdeimlad a chariad a gwrthod defnyddio arfau dialedd a thrais. A thrwy Iesu hefyd y mae’n dangos inni beth yw cariad dwyfol, y cariad sy’n ymrwymedig i’r byd amherffaith hwn ac yn ymdrechu i’w iacháu. Dyna ystyr yr ymgnawdoliad.
Y mae’r ymgnawdoliad hefyd yn alwad i wasanaeth i’r rhai hynny sy’n caru Iesu. A ninnau wedi ein sicrhau o gariad Duw, gofynnir inni fyw cariad Duw yn y byd. Golyga’r efengyl sy’n ein sicrhau bod Duw’n ein caru yn ein holl amherffeithrwydd ein bod ninnau hefyd, amherffaith ag yr ydym, wedi ein galw i garu a gwasanaethu’r byd am mai byd Duw ydyw.
Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan
Christmas Message from +Kumara Illangasinghe Diocese of Kurunagala
A Holy Christmas and a Blessed New Year
And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! I am here with Good News for you, which will bring great joy to all the people…” Luke 2:10.
He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not. John 1: 10
Jesus was born-
“…because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come
to us from heaven,
to shine on those living in darkness;
and in the shadow of death
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet
into the path of peace”
Luke 1: 78-79
Let’s keep the Christ in Christmas, ensuring that we make this festival a Holy time of worship, for His sake. Commercialism and deception must not rob humanity of…
the Christ of the manger
the Baby on the run for life
and the Prince of Peace.
May the Gladness of Christmas
Which is HOPE
The Spirit of Christmas
Which is PEACE
The Heart of Christmas
Which is LOVE
Be yours at this Christmas
And may you share it with all you meet
In the New Year
Bishop’s House 31 Kandy Road, Kurunegala, Sri Lanka