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/ 20 December 2022

A Christmas message from the Bishop of London

The Bishop of London has recorded this Christmas message for those in our church communities.

A text version of the message is below, and subtitles can be added to the film by clicking the ‘CC’ button in video player.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

‘As we draw near to Christmas my heart is full of gratitude for all of you. And in fact that is true throughout the year. Because your lives bear witness to God’s profound love for the people of this city: for every individual and every community and every corner of it. It is a remarkable, vibrant place. And of course it also shares the scars of a broken world.

So again, this year, you have welcomed into your churches, your lives and your homes those who have suffered, first-hand, the tragedy of war: particularly those from Ukraine. You have run food banks and debt advisory services; dementia cafés and bereavement support; you engage with the fight against knife crime and you welcome children to messy church. You have preached the word in season and out of season and celebrated the sacraments. You have led people into deeper faith and discipleship and walked alongside them in their journey of prayer.

You do all of this and so much more as you live out the hope of the gospel, in good times and bad. Our own nation, yet again, is facing some difficult and disturbing times. There are still those among us who are particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus, and we are all aware of the recent upsurge in cases. Alongside this, many are finding it impossible to meet the basic costs of everyday living and are making choices between food and warmth. Necessities have become luxuries and the extras which Christmas often brings are just not affordable.

Church communities offer spiritual and physical warmth whilst also struggling to make ends meet themselves. As we face these challenges, we look to the self-emptying God, who put aside power and glory to be born among us in fragility, vulnerability and as a refugee. God is no stranger to our most profound human struggles, nor to our joys.

Knowing that God does not keep a distance, but chooses to dwell among us and alongside us in the precariousness of our lives, does make a difference. At Christmas we sing about hope, we preach about hope, we rejoice in hope. And the source of that hope is the extraordinary truth: that the Word – the same Word who was active in creation, who was with God, who was God, who is God – became flesh and dwelt among us.

As St John tells us: What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people

We must not blame ourselves for finding it hard, sometimes, to see anything but the darkness. And yet in God, darkness is not without hope. The creation began in darkness. Darkness carries within it the seeds of germination, growth, new life and the hope of healing.

My prayer for you this Christmas is for that hope and healing, for the gift of knowing God’s presence, even in the darkest of nights, and for the knowledge of God’s grace and glory, heralded by angels, come to dwell among us, holding us in love.’

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’

About Sarah Mullally

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE is the 133rd Bishop of London. Before ordination, Bishop Sarah was Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health. She trained for ministry at the South East Institute for Theologian Education.

Read more from Sarah Mullally

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