Messages at Christmas 2020
Christmas 2020. This has been a year like no other that any of us can remember. In the week we have learned that new mutations of Covid 19 have been identified in England, South Africa – and will probably be discovered elsewhere. Optimistic plans that hoped that relaxation of discipline for the holiday period were worth the risk, have been reversed at the last minute – causing confusion and resentment. Agreement has been reached for the rules to be followed as the UK leaves the Common Market.
But it is Christmas and we look for messages of wisdom from our faith leaders:
Pope Francis does not disappoint. He quotes Isaiah 9: 6 – ‘To us a child is born, to us a son is given’.
- He muses on the significance of new birth: a source of hope, blossoming with growth, and promise for the future – without borders. God is identified ‘Father’ so that we are all brothers and sisters. For all our differences we are brothers and sisters. In our family we foster cooperation not competition (No to the virus of radical individualism and the laws of patents and the market place. Ours is the law of love and humanity).
- ‘In everyone I see the face of God, and in those who suffer, I see the Lord pleading for my help.’
- Francis makes a special prayer for Israelis and Palestinians to find mutual trust.
- He makes a prayer for us to rediscover the family as the cradle of life and faith, a place of acceptance and love, dialogue, forgiveness, fraternity, solidarity and shared joy. A source of peace for all humanity. “Urbi et Orbi” – Christmas 2020 | Francis (vatican.va)
The message from the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on ‘A year like this’.
- He is thankful for the emotion of belonging with others of the faith – for the chance to reach out to Jesus, and to find that he has responded.
- Justin Welby celebrates the heroism and brilliance demonstrated by so many people in their jobs and in their voluntary acts to help others.
- His prayer is for strength in love for neighbours A Christmas message from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Anglican Communion – Episcopal News Service
The message from the President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference calls 2020 ‘a challenging year’. It requires us to remember the real meaning of Christmas – stripped to its essentials: Jesus is our hope
- Richard Teal celebrates the mission of lay workers and illustrates this with the story of a recently appointed worker who has found herself trusted and valued for the help she gives to people of several ethnicities and backgrounds who have struggled with the constraints and deprivation: help through Foodbank, cookery lessons and money management are practical interpretations of faith.
- The prayer is an appreciation of Jesus – Light of the World. (61) A Christmas Message from the President and Vice-President – YouTube
Queen Elizabeth brings peace and dignity to a review where she praises ‘the quiet, indomitable spirit’ she has seen demonstrated by people of all shades and status in response to the challenges. Her thoughts turn to the story of The Good Samaritan and the lost story of The Unknown Warrior Queen praises nation for ‘rising magnificently’ to challenges of 2020 | UK news | The Guardian
Practical advice and other reflections
- The Archbishop of Canterbury had urged people, especially older people, to put safety before obligation in deciding whether or not to attend their church at Christmas. He cited his mother as one who would probably worship at home: No need to go to church on Christmas Day, says Justin Welby | UK news | The Guardian
- But there are real concerns for the future of church buildings, if not the church communities. Faith leaders are flattered and encouraged by on-line attendances, but quite what do they mean? Lack of attendances, reduction of giving, and loss of income from the hire of rooms and other facilities is leaving many churches contemplating insolvency during 2021. This will hit older Christians harder than most. If the Church of England worships online, how can its historic buildings survive? | Anglicanism | The Guardian
- The Christmas story has been told indoors, out of doors, on-line and in the flesh. The Magi have become Kings and Balthazar is Black – The Guardian traces these details to a Greek manuscript of 500 AD and to the interpretation of Bede: Myrrh mystery: how did Balthasar, one of the three kings, become black? | Art | The Guardian
- More details of the past will be revealed, at a cost, by research on Viking treasures by the University of Glasgow Researchers win £1m grant to unlock secrets of Viking-era treasure trove | Scotland | The Guardian. It is tempting to wonder if now is the time to be diverting resources of this magnitude to a task which is hundreds of years in the making and a find which is only six years old.
- More is being spent to house a rare thirteenth century illuminated text Guarding the apocalypse: inside the fortress of the new Lambeth Palace Library | Architecture | The Guardian
- There will be enthusiasm for the first print in 300 years of the original (French) fairy tale Pioneering fairytale author Madame d’Aulnoy back in print after centuries | Fairytales | The Guardian
- Scholars have an understanding of the genesis and authorship of Durer’s Lament for Luther Albrecht Dürer may not have written Lament on Luther, finds study | Christianity | The Guardian
- Alan Bennett treats us to observations on ageing Alan Bennett’s 2020 diary reveals growing health struggles | London Review of Books | The Guardian
- Richard Osman tells a tale of successful sleuthing by amateur enthusiasts of mature years. The Famous Five would approve: Richard Osman becomes first debut author to land Christmas No 1 | Books | The Guardian
In the real world, discrimination against disabled people has been banned now for a quarter of a century. Let us hope that all the changes of 2020 do not undo the good which has been done in this time: BBC marks the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act with dedicated content and new commissions – Media Centre
The spiritual experience associated with viewing the Northern Lights has been given a new dimension by the trick which can transpose light into sounds – and the sounds adopted to drive a musical presentation. Radio 3 has aired this – There is a good deal of verbal witnessing before you come to the music after 42 minutes, but it is phenomenal Between the Ears – Songs of the Sky – BBC Sounds