Bishop Paul Connell’s Christmas Message—2023.
We speak a great deal in Advent about the coming of the light. – as Isaiah puts it – for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has come upon you. What light? The light that has made itself visible in the flesh, in this tiny infant in the crib. We are attracted by the same light that enveloped the shepherds and was the guide for the Magi on their journey. This is the light that was in the world from the beginning and by which the world was made. The message of Christmas as St John puts it – the true light which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. And elsewhere in St John – I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. The feast of Christmas is full of Christian hope, the light will overcome the darkness in our lives. And as we ponder on this message at this Christmas time we are all too conscious of how at times we feel surrounded by darkness. There is so much war and destruction in our world, in Ukraine, in Yemen, in Sudan, in Burma and especially in Gaza, the very heart of the Holy Land. Truly we are witnessing yet again the slaughter of the innocents. So much evil. And then there is the darkness in our own lives, the darkness of addiction of various kinds, the threat to human life at its beginning and now mooted for the end of life, the misery of loneliness and the hatred that comes from racism, misunderstanding and ignorance. So much darkness that we can feel overwhelmed. But the message of Christmas is a beacon of hope, the light will always overcome the darkness. Evil will not prevail. The Lord is near, have no fear. This Christmas we are invited yet again to welcome Jesus, the light of truth, hope and love into our lives. Let us make him this Christmas the Lord of our life and let us commit ourselves once again to walking the journey of life with Him. Bishop Paul