Christmas message to the Diocese from the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek
Monday, 19 December 2016
Two words have been much in my mind over the last few months, those of prayer and conversation. Both of these have been key components in our diocesan vision-shaping. From the journey we shared — of words and silence, action and stillness — have come core themes of Leadership, Imagination, Faith and Engagement; with a number of defining priorities sitting beneath each of those headings. These are the things we focussed on when we launched our vision at a wonderful diocesan party on the eve of Advent. My thanks go to all those who came and took part. I hope you found it as exciting and encouraging as I did. If you were unable to be there please take time to watch a short video clip which captures the spirit of joy and celebration.
, however, is not a vision oblivious to the fearful, the lonely, the despairing. It is not unmindful of those whose
lives are devastated by the hatred in our world. Instead it is a vision full of hope, prompting us to be and share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ in who we are and in what we do and say. It is about discovering and sharing life in all its fullness. Life which begins and ends in Jesus Christ, the child born in a Middle Eastern animal shelter over 2,000 years ago, who reveals time and again the unfathomable glory of God.
Jesus was born in a time of social and political turmoil in a nation under occupation by a foreign power. Mary and Joseph were compelled by a heavy handed bureaucracy to make a long and trying journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem at a dangerous time late in her pregnancy. They knew all about uncertainty, all about the fear of ‘what if’. And yet in the midst of all that came the most amazing blessing, the gift of Emmanuel and the angels singing ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.’ God’s glory is paramount and we are created to ever proclaim it.
The shepherds went to Bethlehem and found the Christ child lying in a manger. And “when they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2.17-20)
As we seek to become more confident and fruitful in sharing Christ’s good news, I hope that prayer and conversation will be our continuing reference points as we shape our life together here. As we journey with words and silence, action and stillness, may we learn from one another; encourage and challenge one another; pray for each other and ponder in our hearts. And amidst the world’s heights of celebration and depths of pain, in the places of turbulence and of peace, may our lives and voices join with the angels and all the heavenly host in giving unending glory to God.
I wish you a joyous and peaceful Christmas
With thanks and prayers
BC:AD by UA Fanthorpe
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.
U.A. Fanthorpe’s ‘BC:AD’ is included in her Christmas Poems, published by Enitharmon Press, www.enitharmon.co.uk
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