Christmas message from the Bishop of Exeter

‘If we all matter to one another, we are not alone...’

I’m surrounded by Christmas cards and I’m glad. Every year I wonder about sending them. But as soon as I start writing them, pictures of people come into my mind – friends, family, colleagues, each of them special and precious. And then comes the opening of their cards to me, along with bits of news from the past year – and I rejoice at how different we all are, and how special, and how nice it is to be remembered. For me, that is one of the gifts of Christmas.

Jesus, in the darkness of the first Christmas night, came to us with a name, ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God-with-us’, with each of us. I think all of us, deep down, want to be remembered, want to be thought of, and to be acknowledged as special and worth bothering with.

If we all matter to one another, we are not alone, we are part of a family, part of a community. The reality is that you can’t live without being supported and sustained by the communities which form part of your life. And one of the gifts of Christmas is that Jesus came not only for each one of us individually, but also to help us transform humanity into a community where we would be free to be human, and valued and at home. I am aware that many people will not feel like that this Christmas – they may feel alone, worthless, sad. And that makes me want to do something about it.

So in wishing you a very Happy Christmas, may I also hope for a New Year in which we all recognise a little bit more how much we need each other, how important community is and how much happiness is what we give each other rather than take for ourselves.