A Christmas message to children from the Bishop of London
The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, has recorded this Christmas message for children across the diocese. Please share this with parents and carers in your 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.
‘Hello, my name is Sarah and it is my privilege to be the Bishop of London. So, my job means that I spend a lot of my time speaking to adults, but I am also your Bishop too and I wanted to make the time to talk to you this Christmas.
Something I enjoy every Christmas is Nativity plays. When I was a Rector we had an incident at our Nativity with the Angel, who was very upset about not being chosen to be Mary. There were other children, who were shepherds and even the odd superhero that might have been glad to be an angel, but she only wanted to be Mary. We didn’t realise this until the part in the play when she brought the Shepherds to present their gifts to Mary and Joseph. In that moment the Angel saw her chance and stole the baby Jesus and ran out of the church!
I’m sure you will have been in a Nativity Play yourself but I’m sure you would never dream of stealing Jesus. These plays help us to remember a great story, and it’s a story that more than two thousand years later is still a source of hope to us today.
Jesus’ friend John writes in his Gospel that when Jesus was born ‘the word become flesh and made his dwelling among us’. You could say ‘God became a person and came to live with us’. Or another way to say it is that God pitched a tent among us. I rather like that idea. This is what is at the heart of that story we remember in Nativity plays: that God cared about us so much that he became a person to be with us and show us the way.
Recently, some young people led prayers at St Paul’s Cathedral and they wanted to pray for peace in the areas of the world where there is war, and that God would help refugees. Most of all they prayed about the ‘cost of living crisis’: that is seeing the price that their families are paying for food and fuel going up and up. I know you will be worried about these things and I am too.
There is something in the story we remember in our Nativity Plays that helps me. Jesus was born into a poor family in a world that was also full of uncertainty. In fact you might remember that at the end of the Christmas story Mary and Joseph have to flee King Herod and become what we would now call refugees in Egypt. It was not where people expected to find the son of God, so the story reminds me that when I’m worried and life is tough that is where Jesus ‘made his home’ or ‘pitched his tent’, with people like me and you.
I would like to finish by wishing you a wonderful Christmas, but you are probably wondering who I was in my school Nativity Play. I wonder if you can guess? I was the Angel Gabriel but I did not steal the baby Jesus!
May God bless you this Christmas and I pray that you may remember that through this time Jesus has made his home with us.’
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.
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