Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The feast of the Lord’s birth, celebrated universally by Christians, is nearly upon us. And with only few short weeks of my sabbatical remaining, I offer you my greetings for a holy and blessed Christmas, and the assurance of my prayers.
“When the time had fully come,” says St Paul (Gal 4.4), “God sent his Son.” The world God’s Son entered was not a world of peace and harmony, where everything and everyone was ready for the peaceful spread of new ideas, justice and reconciliation. He had first to appear in an age and in a place of discord, of force and violence, to share our slavery, and to make himself one with those who are powerless and poor, so that at every moment in history it will be the powerless and poor who first recognise that he is among them.
Thus it is that he also speaks to the slavery and poverty in the heart of each of us. When the time of testing and loneliness comes upon us, when our needs are most naked before him, when we are powerless and poor, then we can recognise him with us, among us, declaring in the very midst of our struggle and pain both divine power and human dignity.
At the end of a year that has exposed many signs of the vulnerability and fragility of even the securest societies, as well as in countless individual lives, we are reminded that ours is a time when we may expect to see Christ raising up the powerless and poor, and reaffirming their freedom and their worth. Let us therefore not be afraid of going to the places of slavery, of poverty, and of desolation—in the world, in our neighbourhoods, and in our own hearts—ready to meet Christ there, ready to echo him in words and deeds not only of forgiveness and release, but also of new life and transformation.
In the name of the Lord:
+ Jonathan Ebbsfleet