Christmas Message from The Anglican Bishop Of Portsmouth, The Rt Rev Christopher Foster

The Rt Rev Christopher Foster
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster
Portsmouth Port. Photo by Chris Pearsall

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Happy Christmas! I am delighted to send very best wishes for your Christmas celebrations.

Christmas is one of those times when we may feel a variety of conflicting emotions. We may experience a warm glow as we sing carols, share food, give presents and spend time with loved ones.

Equally we may struggle with the stress of last-minute shopping, family members we find difficult and over-excited children.

Like other clergy, I am no different to everyone else in this – it’s great to have our churches full for carol and Christmas services, but the endless round of services and sermons can become as wearing as the shopping and rushing.

And for all of us, how easy is it to stand back from this activity and emotion and take in the enormity of what it is we’re celebrating, especially when we’ve heard it countless times, or sung the same carols year after year?

If we reflect on the fact that the great, mysterious God of all creation chose to become a small, helpless baby to help put right what had gone wrong with our world, it is truly incredible.

No other religion makes such a bold claim. Think what it means. God, even God, chooses to limit himself to human form, to spend years growing up as a small child, learning a trade, playing in the street, and growing into an understanding of why he had been born.

What might Jesus’s emotions have been as he realised what his life might involve? We get a sense of this when we read of his temptations in the desert near the start of his ministry and the agonies in the Garden of Gethsemane near the end, but this may only have been the tip of the iceberg.

As we prepare to remember the moment when God entered our world, how will you seek to engage more fully with the story, not just of Jesus’s birth but also of his life and ministry? Together that is the amazing, the almost unimaginable story of what we call ‘the incarnation’.

This is not just theory but fact. The unimaginable for real.

This Christmas, will you create the time and space to reflect, pray and read the gospel stories again?

Will you choose a new Christmas service or activity to give you a fresh perspective?

Will you actively seek to help those nearby and around the world who won’t receive presents this year?

I hope you have a blessed and joyful Christmas and a happy New Year. And I pray that you catch a fresh glimpse of just how breathtaking it is for us to be celebrating such an incredible event.