Archives for December 2015

Bishop Greg’s Christmas Message 2015

Perhaps “the age of entitlement is over”, but most of us believe we have a right to certain things. Usually we call them human rights. Humans should expect to be free from oppression and slavery, to be paid for our work, to be able to have leisure, to express our views peacefully. Of course many people in our world lack these basic goods, and we should do all that we can to make sure that they are indeed universal.

But the Christmas message gives a whole new angle on rights. The Gospel of John says that ‘grace’ came through Jesus Christ. In other words, what Jesus brings to the world is not something that the world had a right to. Grace means kindness that is not deserved. When we give gifts at Christmas we might echo that grace – except that we feel awkward when somebody gives to us and we don’t give back to them! The grace that comes through Jesus has many sides. Most fundamentally, Jesus is God-with-us, showing God has not left us alone, but does what is needed to bring blessing to the world, even though we do not deserve it. Jesus also comes to us as fully human. He knows us from the inside. He models the love, humility, wisdom and courage that we want all people to display. Jesus himself taught that his reason for being was to find the lost and to bring people life in all its fullness.

We are challenged to respond to this grace in two ways.

First, we simply accept it, thankfully. This matches the structure of our Christian faith – we simply trust God’s promises to us through Jesus Christ, rather than having to be some kind of spiritual super-achievers to earn our way into friendship with God.

Second, we remember that as we received grace, so we should show grace to others. That means doing good to others whether they deserve it or not. This opens up all kinds of opportunities for demonstrating what God’s goodness is like, whether we do this on the individual level, or in partnership with others such as our congregations.

Christmas is a time of celebration. The grace that came in Jesus is a great thing to celebrate and to pass around.

(Photo courtesy Anglicare NT.)