Whether we are ordinary or influential, rich or poor, Christ calls us all to show loving concern for those around us, says the Archbishop of Wales in his Christmas message.
Archbishop John Davies will be preaching at Brecon Cathedral on Christmas Day. The service starts at 11am and all are welcome. An embargoed summary of his address will be sent out separately.
Whether they are historical fact or simply carefully written stories – and I confess to preferring the second option – the biblical accounts of shepherds and kings being drawn to the baby Jesus have something important to say to our society in relation to our observance of the season of Christmas and our entry into New Year.
St Luke is the one whose version of the Gospel tells us the story of the shepherds. These were not influential or powerful individuals. Quite the opposite; stuck out, on a hillside, paid (but probably not very much) to look after someone else’s sheep. But it’s to these apparently unimportant people that the first messages about Jesus’s birth come. The meaning of this? Simply that Jesus has something important to say to the ordinary people like you and me. Then we turn to Matthew’s version of the Gospel where we find the story about the Kings or, if you prefer, the Wise Men. Because of the expensive and symbolic gifts which we are told they brought, we are meant to understand that these are people of substance; influential and, maybe, even powerful. They come and present their gifts; but, before doing so, we are told that they ‘fell down and worshipped’ Jesus. The meaning of this? Again, it’s simple. Jesus has something important to say to people of influence.
Whether it’s Luke’s shepherds or Matthew’s kings, these lovely stories contain messages of truth, namely that the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, the man into whom the child of Bethlehem was to grow, is a pattern for ordinary people and a pattern for powerful people. Regardless of who we are, he has something to say about the way in which we live our lives and how we are called to show loving concern, not just for ourselves but for the millions of needy people, people at home and abroad, people in our own communities and the far-away communities of other nations in the world; people whose life-stories of need and despair daily appear in our news: among them are homeless people, refugees, victims of armed conflict and poverty, persecution and prejudice, depravation of food and opportunity – the list seems endless!
Love – real, blood-red love – is the most powerful weapon the world has, and Jesus shows how it should be used and must be used for the sake of the world he was born to renew.
His message for us is that we must try to live our lives demonstrating a genuine, welcoming and loving concern for those around us. His very clear message for those who have responsibility for leading and governing the world’s societies is that power is to be exercised within the framework of that concern as, even in our own society, divisions between the haves and the have-nots appear to grow ever wider, and as the voices suggesting that we should be concerned only for ourselves seem to get louder and louder.
I wish you the truth and blessing of Jesus for the Christmas Season, for the new Year and beyond.