'Let's tell the good news' - Bishop of Swansea and Brecon
Bishop John Davies
Among the familiar bits of scripture which form part of the Christmas story are the words of the angel to the shepherds: “I bring you good news.”
We do not know precisely what the events of the first Christmas were; we do not know what proportion of the familiar tales is fact or fable. What, however, we do know is that those groups of people who were responsible for first passing them on and then writing them were captivated by the good news with which the child of Bethlehem later challenged the world, demanding things such as:
• Good News of relief for the poor.
• Good News of welcome for the marginalised.
• Good News of liberty for the oppressed.
• Good News of inclusion for the outsiders.
• Good News of acceptance for the rejected.
• Good News of peace for people trapped in conflict.
The results of the 2011 census suggest that church seems to be making a pretty poor job of either communicating that good news or standing up for those who need it. And I’m on record as having said that, if the church is in decline, it’s often not the world’s fault for having diminishing faith, but the church’s fault for not presenting the good news in a way which the world understands or even respects. All too often, as recent events demonstrate, the image which the church presents of itself is of an institution which is ‘against’ this or that rather than being ‘for’ anything positive. This is a tragedy because, in my own Diocese, there are countless examples of faithful and loving Christian people being good news and doing wonderful work in our communities, work which is rarely reported let alone praised, and without which those communities would be much the poorer.
Jesus Christ, the man of truth and justice, who was and is the good news, grew from the child whose birth we currently mark; and I’m sorry if his good news is something which the church sometimes fails to present clearly and effectively. We should always try to do better in drawing attention to the plight of the needy, being a voice for the voiceless and being a place of welcome where the rejected and unwelcomed are both greeted and valued!
We cannot heal all the world’s ills nor answer all the world’s needs, but each one of us can be good news by being a source of influence and pressure brought to bear upon those who can do something.
However you may be celebrating this Christmas, spare some time to remember those who desperately need good news; and ask yourself whether or not you are good news for others around you, the kind of good news which the real Jesus calls each one of us to be.
+John Davies – Bishop of Swansea & Brecon
Entered By Anna Morrell - 18.12.12Anna Morrell, Archbishop’s Media Officer
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