'˜If we areÂ in darkness or uncertainty, we should look for the light of a star'.'¦ A Christmas message from the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher FosterÂ
Happy Christmas! From me, as well as the clergy and people of your local church down the road, IÂ send best wishes to you on behalf of all church leaders.
Whether you are alone this Christmas, orÂ with friends or family, I pray you will know the joy and light that Jesus' birth brings to us and the
The magi '“ the kings or the wise men, as they are known - were some of the first visitors toÂ Bethlehem. They followed the star to find Jesus. This year the Church of England has been offeringÂ ways for people to journey towards Christmas using the hashtag #Follow The Star. It's an image thatÂ a lot of us will recognise from nativity plays.
It's a lovely and evocative image, but if we think about it too long it's easy to get bogged down in wondering how it happened. The Bible doesn't say whether it was a big hovering light or a brightÂ star, because that's not what matters.
What I think matters is that they were looking for light in a dark world, and '“ having caught aÂ glimpse of something '“ were prepared to follow it, even when it led to an unexpected and surprisingÂ place. And, when they got there, these wealthy and important people were willing to bow down andÂ worship a tiny child, unable to speak and living in an obscure town.
Sometimes we are in the light, and sometimes the dark. Perhaps this past year has been one of sadness, grief and darkness for you. The news has sometimes been dark, chaotic and worrying.Â
Certainly we are in uncertain times as Brexit approaches.
Other times there are good news stories, moments of kindness between strangers and neighbours that lighten up our day. To choose to follow the light isn't about ignoring the problems of the world and pretending that everything's fine. The wise men follow the star through the darkness '“ indeedÂ they must do because that's the only time the star is visible.
Following that star takes them into new territory, and off the map as far as they're concerned. It means not always knowing what's round the next corner or who they'll meet on the way. It meansÂ trusting that through the darkness there is something to be found, and hope to be shared. If we areÂ in darkness or uncertainty, that's when we should look for the light of a star.
That's what following the star means for us at Christmas. It's that willingness to walk through the darkness, both to discover new light in our lives and to see where that light leads us. That might be aÂ decision to make a change, to see the world afresh, to live differently.
The invitation of Christmas is to follow the light, to Follow The Star. Christmas is the celebration of aÂ light coming into the dark world through Jesus. You and I see the Star and can follow Jesus out intoÂ the world as lights to others. Happy Christmas.