Bishop Garry's Chrismas Message 2016 Thu 22nd of Dec.

you are in: 2016 News Archive > Bishop Garry's Chrismas Message 2016

A Christmas Message From the Bishop

When singer songwriter Paul Kelly was asked to contribute to a Christmas album in the 1990's he wanted to record his version of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". But someone had already reserved that song and so he suggested his own "How to Make Gravy".

The song recalls Christmases past in the mind of someone who is spending Christmas in prison. The poignant memories of family squabbles, unsuitable partners, the person who drinks a little too much, and the effort that goes into gathering together and preparing a traditional hot meal overwhelm the prisoner. What seems chaotic, hot, noisy and unpleasant when it is experienced, looks like heaven itself to the prisoner who will be standing in line to receive his Christmas meal and who will eat it in company with neither family nor friend. He longs for the time when he will be able to make gravy for his family and friends.

Sometimes we only understand the precious moments in our lives when we can no longer experience them. What we take for granted now or even despise now, can seem like heaven itself when our lives are turned upside down by death or illness or circumstances over which we have no control. Attending to the present is an important skill to cultivate, because it enables us to be truly grateful for the here and the now. Attending gratefully to the present is our most appropriate response to the Incarnation. Jesus comes amongst us, as one of us, that we might begin to see ourselves as God sees us - not just self-important self-obsessives, but as precious and beloved children of the one true Father, and as sisters and brothers with the Incarnate Child and with each other. Here is the heart of Christmas: not what we see, but what God sees in us through the lens of Jesus.

If it is true that we are sisters and brothers with the Child of Bethlehem and with each other, how can we bear to look at what is happening in Syria, even as we make our Christmas gravy. This ancient land, home to some of the earliest Christians has been totally devastated by the political agendas of other nations. Homeless and hopeless, the human flood fleeing ISIS and the other warring factions, fills us with pity and despair and enormous frustration. St Augustine wrote that Christian Hope has two beautiful daughters - anger and courage.

May we have the anger borne from injustice to cry out for the people of Syria, and may we have the courage to speak and pray and act, so that even in this peaceful and wealthy land, our government might speak up and act courageously

Attending to the present, requires that we look beyond our own families, and even our own nation, to see where we can speak and act as true sisters and brothers to the Christ Child in those who are caught up in despair and the webs of evil. May our prayer this Christmas be the refrain of Shirley Murray's beautiful modern Christmas carol

"This year, this year let the day arrive,
When Christmas is for everyone, everyone alive!"

+ Garry


Newsletter Sign-up