BISHOP CHRISTOPHER SAUNDERS’ 2015 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: Invite Christ to the Joy of our Christmas

21 Dec 2015

By The Record

Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders, invited those preparing for Christmas to model their lives on Jesus and to make room for the arrival of the Saviour. Photo: Supplied
Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders, invited those preparing for Christmas to model their lives on Jesus and to make room for the arrival of the Saviour. Photo: Supplied

“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in bands of cloth, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the Inn” (Lk.2:6-7).

It is truly amazing to ponder that the Saviour of the world was born into poverty and into almost miserable circumstances. Joseph and Mary were homeless, forced to take refuge in the cold confines of a barn, where the boy child was born in squalor.

Then, soon, as a refugee, He was to flee in the arms of His parents to Egypt, to escape the murdering campaign of the tyrant King Herod. Nothing in this story of the birth and infancy of Jesus speaks of human comfort. Rather, it echoes a theme of suffering and struggle and sacrifice that leads ultimately to the Cross on Calvary. But, without the Christmas event of Jesus’ birth which we celebrate now, there could not have been the passion, death and resurrection that are at the heart of our faith and essential to our hope.

As we become immersed in the joy of Christmas with all its festivities, it is well to remember that Jesus is our model for living. It is clear that being joyful, even exuberant, in our happiness, is a Christ-like behaviour. No doubt Jesus enjoyed the wedding feast of Cana in much the same way, we hope, as we might enjoy the gatherings at Christmas.

What we need to guard against, in a Christ-like way, are the excesses that take us beyond the realm of what is moderate and reasonable. In order to do this, it will be necessary to make the effort to remember what we are celebrating – the birth of our redeemer into the world. Indeed, it is in His footsteps that we walk. It is His teachings, His example and His loving words that we follow. Hence, we happily call ourselves disciples of the Lord and we do our best to be who we say we are.

Throughout this wonderful season, there needs to be room in our Christmas recollections for others – particularly those less fortunate than ourselves: the down and out, the homeless, the refugees, the lonely, the single parent, the prisoners, the sick, the addicted and the shut-ins. In fact, all those who, for whatever reason, are on the margins of our society without the love of family and friends and upright living to sustain and nurture them.

The Advent and Christmas liturgies, with their prayers, pageants and carols, do their best to point us in the right direction. They call us to a conversion of heart and a mind of thanksgiving to be lived out in the quest for personal holiness.

However, I imagine that, if we are honest, the question remains – are we listening? Are we making room in our busy lives for Christ and for the real joy that comes from being His disciple? Or, in our ignorance and selfishness, do we once more put Jesus out of our lives and into the cold and the darkness of faithlessness.

Christmas is a call to faith and belief and hope. It is a joy-filled time with family, friends and the faith community. Or, at least, it will be if we endeavour to make it so and if we invite Christ into our Christmas celebrations.

I take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you God’s choicest blessings this holy and joyous season.