The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, has sent out the following Christmas message:
As I look back over the past year, it seems that certain news items keep repeating themselves. The threat of unpredictable terrorist attacks is ever present.
Examples of violent power struggles continue to put innocent lives in danger, most recently and very tragically in Pakistan, but also in the Middle East, Ukraine and parts of Africa.
It has been tough to contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa. And at a more individual level, there’s been a string of cases of sexual abuse by people held in respect in our society.
It doesn’t make for a very pretty picture of the kind of world we live in and the kind of potential that human nature has for evil and doing terrible things to others.
But this realistic view of how things are emphasises we are in a world far removed from what God originally intended and for which some radical action is necessary. And that is what we celebrate at Christmas.
God, the Creator of all things, saw the mess and confusion that humankind has made of His good creation, by leaving Him out of the picture and trying to live independently of Him.
His rescue plan involved His arrival in the form of a human being like us, leading to His remarkable but short three year ministry and culminating in His planned and purposeful sacrificial death on a cross.
It was there, even though He had done no wrong Himself, that He bore the consequences of all the wrong in the world, so that those who turn to Him might know His forgiveness and allow Him His rightful place in their lives.
Christianity is a faith about a change of heart. As that new beginning with God at the centre takes place, so people and communities change, the Kingdom and rule of God in human life is more evident and the world begins to return to what God originally meant life on earth to be. Christians believe that hope for the world to be a better place does not depend on anything other than a restored relationship with God.
And the birth of Jesus Christ shows God’s initiative and desire and provision for that to be the case. There is no getting away from the fact that the solution to the problems in the world is a spiritual one and I am not ashamed to say so.
May I wish you all a joyful Christmas.