A Christmas video message from Bishop Nick calls for prayers for the dispossessed and the marginalised as we mark the wonderful strangeness of the Saviour’s birth.
The short film may be viewed here and Bishop Nick’s words may be read below:
I greet you on the day when we celebrate God's eruption into the world not with a mighty army, not with clanging drums and symbols and great noise and fervour, but in the birth of a tiny baby born in an obscure part of the Roman Empire, which was oppressive and challenging and difficult, where life was cheap.
And you might think that sounds very familiar. There are parts of our world today, even on our own continent, where life appears to be expendable and cheap.
At a clergy conference not so long ago we had the great historian Tom Holland and he was emphasizing what he called the utter strangeness of Christianity. Something that by familiarity or enculturation, we've largely lost. But the Christian faith, which is born in one sense in that stable in Bethlehem, is utterly strange for the world in which we live, where its power is seen and will be seen 30 years later, not in the clenched fist or the wielding of a weapon, but in a man with his arms outstretched on a cross saying love is more powerful than death itself.
So born in this vulnerable baby, we hear and we see something very powerful that speaks to us in the complicated world in which we live.
We pray particularly this Christmas for those who are dispossessed, who are marginalized, who are forced to migrate. Those who live with destitution through no fault of their own. Those who have become homeless and yet might see in the utter strangeness of the baby of Bethlehem that he too was someone who had to migrate, someone who was homeless, someone who was a refugee and knew what it meant to be dependent on other people.
So, as we celebrate at Christmas the strangeness of God coming among us, offering the different way and yet not baulking from the reality and the horrors of the world in which we live. As we celebrate, may we also be aware of those whose need is great and pray and care for those who reflect the Christ child born in the stable in Bethlehem all those years ago.
Happy Christmas, and a blessed Christmas as we live out the life of Christ among us.”
The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds