Love in the face of adversity, says Bishop of Chichester on Christmas Day

Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Our response to acts of brutality and violence in today’s world must be dignity, respect and concord in the light of Christ’s hope.

That was the message from Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner in his Christmas Day address at Chichester Cathedral.

Speaking of the fear, hatred and greed seen in Berlin and Syria, the Bishop explained how the Christian message calls for us to emulate God’s love in a depraved and troubled world.

The Christmas card or stain glass window nativity scene is a familiar one, but Jesus Christ was born into an age of brutality and hostility, in occupied territory, and his family fled a massacre soon after.

The Bishop said: “As the icons on many of our Christmas cards narrate the story we know so well from scripture and our carols, we should not allow the beauty of art, music and familiar narratives to sanitise the impact of brutality.”

He added: “It is there in Imperial Rome’s ruthless invasion and occupation, Herod’s mindless slaughter of children, and a callous grasping after power that will lead to crucifixion when this tiny Christ child has grown to adulthood.”

Dr Warner said that such violence and horror had not gone away: “These gruesome details stretch out across human history to enfold those who meet new brutality and degradations in every generation, including our own in Syria, Gaza, Egypt and Berlin.

“And against such a toxic outpouring of fear, hatred and greed, the eternal wisdom of God’s heart of love stands constant and undiminished as the source of our hope and liberation.”

The Bishop said that the Christian message against such a backdrop demanded dignity, respect and concord as the antithesis of all that was wrong in the world.

“Urged on by this love, and in contrast to the woes of sin and strife, we seek to raise a new strain of discourse which is the love-song of dignity, respect and concord that can capture and transform hearts made weary by the clamour of hate and accusation.

“This is the angel song, with lyrics set to a thousand tunes, each seeking to evoke insistently the reality of hope for peace on earth and the outbreak of goodwill within the human race.”

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