By Bishop Christopher Saunders
Bishop of Broome
I like Christmas. And so do most people I know. It’s an up-beat season that has a certain refreshing lifestyle of its own. Apart from the on-going parties and get-togethers and all those things especially associated with “the season to be jolly”, it is a time recognised as being different to any other moment of the year.
What’s more, despite the decline in religious practise, notions of good will and peace to others still seem to prevail in the rendition of Christmas preferred by our secular society. In an age of disbelief so evidently defined by an aggressive agnosticism, there remains just the same a persistent presence of joy and brightness among us for which we should be most grateful.
While Christmas carols in their richness have given way to silly seasonal songs about reindeers, elves and Santa, and while cash registers beat a record of our frenzied shopping, nonetheless there is a residual faint echo of something greater that happened once upon a time, long, long ago. It is of course nothing less than the birth of the Saviour of the world, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christmas is truly a feast for true believers for it is best understood by those who know the story and live the calling begun in us at baptism. The Gospels and the tradition handed down to us through the generations, give Christians a unique insight into the greatness of God, the mercy of God and hope for humanity. Behind the murky presentations of Christmas that our profane society promotes in the media lies a wonderful story that needs to be shared. And not only shared but recalled enthusiastically in our literature, our songs, our theatre, our worship and our family life at home.
The greatness of this Christmas feast lies in the detail that the Bethlehem story reveals. In the dutiful attention of Joseph and Mary, we witness the loving sacrifice of parents who in their humility and selflessness persevered to bring the Christ child into the world despite overwhelming difficulties. In Jesus’ birth our hearts are attuned to the loving joy that new life brings to all, something amply recounted in the song of the angels and in the eagerness of the shepherds. The presence of the Magi, the Three Wise Men, establishes a right relationship between Saviour and saved as they who represent the world give homage to Him who comes as God among us.
Our Christian faith beckons us constantly not to be submerged by materialism, nor to be blinded to the needs of the poor and marginalised, nor to be deaf to the cries of those who are suffering from famine and war. This Christmas are we not called to be Christ to the world?
As long as families gather faithfully to retell the wonder of that first Christmas night and as long as the belief we cherish continues to shine in our lives, then the true meaning of Christmas will never be lost. And most certainly our world will be a better place for it.
I wish you and your family and your community God’s choicest blessings this Christmas.