Added on 18/12/2012
From The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland:
One of the ways of looking at Christmas – from an entirely secular perspective – is to see it as a time for connecting and re–connecting. We make the effort to connect (or re–connect) with family and friends, and even with some casual acquaintances. Hopefully we try to connect with people who would otherwise have no one with whom to connect – those who are alone and lonely, or who have no family or close friends to give them any comfort or companionship.
For some, it is a time to re–connect – however fleetingly – with the Christian faith they once espoused, but about which they have now become casual or careless. And this is never to be sneered at, or despised. Connecting and re–connecting with our faith is something every Christian disciple has to do, perhaps on a daily basis.
At the heart of Christmas, we connect in particular with the wonder that God has such a total love for the world that he connects with us in the most complete of ways, in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is our task to encourage others as well as ourselves to make this connection. And we are to make this connection easier to grasp for others, through our witness to the love of Christ, and in our unselfconscious care for the unloved and unwanted of this world.
There can be surely little doubt that when people stop connecting with their religious faith – their sense that they are in the hands of a God who loves them – they may easily then start to lose faith in themselves, and hence lose faith also in those around them, and so become angry, embittered and fearful. For some, connecting with the faith they have inherited is natural and straightforward, for others connecting with religious faith is far from easy; whereas for others it is something utterly contemptible. For Christian disciples there is at Christmas an eternal reminder that we are loved for ourselves, and that every other human person is loved equally by God.
In this Christmas season, we are each challenged to connect or reconnect with our family, friends and others who are without friends, but also to connect or re–connect our lives with a faith that tells us we are each loved in Jesus Christ, and that calls us to carry Christ’s love into the dark and lonely places of this world, near or far.
May the God of love fill you with the joy, peace and hope of Christmas.
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