Episcopal Pastoral Message Feast of the Blessed Nativity 1736AM | 2020 AD

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My dear Fathers, sisters, brothers and children in the Lord,

I wish you the grace and peace of our blessed Lord of the Holy Nativity.

In the Holy Nativity, we see the ultimate gifts of availability and access, for in His Birth and dwelling among us, the Incarnate Word made Himself not only one of us, but was able to converse with us from a position of our own experience, and also allowed us to approach Him from a place of familiarity and trust, and it is with this example that we must live and make ourseI\/es available to one another.

Our world is becoming an increasingly more complex, and often alienating, place. While we are more connected than we have e\/er been in the history of humankind, we also suffer more greatly from loneliness and isolation in the midst of our large communities and complex infrastructures.

We give thanks to God that this Festive season heralds a time of family and community, and yet there are many who continue to struggle with feeling alone. We tend to think of this as being a problem outside the walls of our Churches, or the boundaries of our communities, but in actual fact there may be many missing from those communities today, or even in our midst, who will be experiencing this isolation, unknown to us. In many cases we do not intend to ignore or isolate, but we may do so as a result of the lives we live and the responsibilities we have.

I am always inspired by the Book of Nehemiah, and by the sense of commitment and leadership this great Prophet shows, through which he instils hope and a sense of community and purpose. In Nehemiah Chapter 4, he realises the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem, and gathers his people to build. He is aware of the magnitude of the task ahead, and the vulnerability it brings, as he says to his people in \/erse 19 “the work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.” This realisation alone could have been a hindrance, but his solution was to provide a mechanism through which this community was able to rally and support one another at the height of their vulnerability, and so he says to them in verse 20 “Whenever you hear the trumpet, rally to us there.”

The significance of this action is not merely in the power of people gathered, although that in itself may be a strength and support, but it is what their union brings, as we read in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20); and so in the same spirit, Nehemiah reminds his people that when they rally, it is not just they who are there, but he says to them “Our God will fight for us”.

We all have our ‘walls’ to build and lives to live, and our world quite often makes us ‘separated far from one another’, and yet as the Body of Christ we must always try to rally together. There is much being said at the moment on mental health, ranging from clinical mental illness, which needs a specialised clinical response, to the struggles we all face due to the pressures that life brings on a daily basis. Whether at the individual level or as a community, we must learn to sound the trumpet and rally at times of need. Awareness and alertness are needed on the part of those sounding the trumpet for others they identify as struggling and in need of support, for we can never underestimate the courage it takes to ask for help, while at the same time needing faithfulness and commitment on the part of those who hear the trumpet to genuinely rally, placing themselves, and more importantly our Lord, at the heart of the problem, and as part of its solution.

This year, our Diocesan theme, as discussed and agreed with our clergy and various people serving across the breadth of our ministries, will revolve around this very real need to ‘Sound The Trumpet’ and rally together, whether as individuals, families, or parishes, that we may always feel supported by one another, and know that we are part of something bigger; never needing to feel that we are on our own, but that we are always supported by those around us and by Christ as our Head. There will be more said about this throughout the year, but for now, let us pray for one another and do all we can to support each other as we joyfully receive the visitation of our Lord, thankful that “. ..He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

As we gather this year, we give thanks for all that our Diocese has been able to provide for us in the sense of ministries and fellowship at a variety of levels, ranging from our seniors’ Oasis Ministry, to our youth and children’s ministries across the diocese and parishes. We also give thanks for all that God has done and continues to do through the countless individuals who give of themselves and their time to ensure that others are cared for: our Clergy, our servants, and even the youngest of children who give us such joy through their enthusiasm and love in our parishes.

Wishing you the blessings and joy of this holy Feast of the Nativity, and praying God’s continued blessing upon our Diocesan family and the Church at large, I assure you of my prayers for you, as I ask yours for me.


Servant of the See of London