Christmas Is Here

In this Christmas message The Rt Rev Dr Karowei Dorgu, Bishop of Woolwich, reminds us to overcome life’s challenges by putting our trust in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world

Christmas is coming, is coming, is coming, Christmas is coming. . .” says the song I learnt in Sunday school many decades ago.

As we prepare for Christmas this year, I can confidently say that the Lord God has been good to us because we have been through such interesting and trying times. From experiencing many different crises, such as COVID-19; the cost of living crisis; the political crisis with three British Prime Ministers in as many months; and the national mourning on the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Not to mention Putin’s war in Ukraine causing the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

There have been some good news stories too. We have seen the ascension of King Charles III — a new monarch after 70 years. Long may he reign, and we wish him well in the Name of Christ. 

We have also seen our first British Prime Minister of South Asian origin, Mr Rishi Sunak, a Hindu of Indian ancestry — an example of the diversity and beauty of the United Kingdom, where people from all walks and corners of the earth live together and flourish in our nation.

The cost of living crisis has been made worse by the Putin’s war in Ukraine. Others have also blamed Brexit for the reversal of our business fortunes, due to fallen trade with Europe and the mass return of European workers to the continent. Whatever we say, these times are difficult and painful. These are worrying and anxiety-generating times we live in. It’s now obvious that some people will have to make difficult choices between what is wanted and what is needed; others will need to cut their contributions to charity, church, etc., while others have to decide whether to eat or to heat. Some of our churches, libraries and community rooms/centres are providing safe, warm ‘places of welcome’ for the community to use, in order to save heating their homes during the day. How wonderful!

In the midst of all these challenges, sorrows and joys, the Christmas season holds out to us all an offering of the reality of love, peace and hope in small bundles and sometimes in the most insignificant places.

Our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to put our resolute trust in God for our daily sustenance. As the prayer Jesus Christ taught His disciples says: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The alternative to trusting God for our sustenance and daily provision through work and good stewardship is to be anxious and let the situation around us turn us into nervous wrecks. God forbid, because Christ in us is the Hope of glory, and He offers us this living hope as we come to trust Him for our salvation.

On that wonderful day, in the city of Bethlehem during the reign of an evil King Herod, a despot of the Roman Empire, the people were living in fear of the occupation of the Romans and were very anxious of what might happen next after the census he had ordered. God was present with them in their travails, but they didn’t know that for sure until the first Christmas.

God showed His face to them in Bethlehem (which means the House of Bread), that He was the God who provided all their needs (Jehovah Jireh – Genesis 22:14a). God’s provision for us doesn’t usually come as we expect, and this was no different. God showed Himself in the most unlikely form. The Baby Jesus was born in the lowliest of places — a borrowed animal shed, surrounded by unusual dormitory mates. His cot was an animal’s feeding trough, and the neighbours welcomed Him with neighs, boos and baas. The Scripture says: ‘Who [with reason] despises the day of small things (beginnings)?’ (Zechariah 4:10a AMP).

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of God the Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah, the second Person of the Trinity, who walks with us, holds our hands and wears our shoes through empathy. God came in a small bundle to cheer up His people and lift their spirits. The people and angels sang glad tidings of great joy and the Gloria. Heaven and earth celebrated in unison. This is why it’s important to go to a place of worship this Christmas to sing the uplifting Christmas carols, and to worship Christ daily, because every day is Christmas in my books.

This Christmas, Christ invites us to a season of love, peace, goodwill and hope as we trust Him. The challenging times are real, so are the financial difficulties we face. However, God’s grace and mercies, as in Christ, are also real and tangible to all who reach out in faith. Christ offers all who look to Him hope, peace and love, in that He loves us so much He died on the cross to save us sinners and give us peace and hope in life eternal through faith in Him as Messiah. I am sure you may say it’s difficult to imagine. Remember, Christ is called Emmanuel — that is, ‘God with us’ — come what may, but it is possible to believe that He is with us.

That is why He came to be like us at the season of Christmas, to show His eternal love for all humanity made in His image and likeness. So, as we say, Jesus Christ the Messiah was born on that first Christmas to save us from sin and all the challenges and troubles of our life here on earth. Hence the saying ‘Jesus Christ is the reason for the season’. There is hope instead of despair, peace instead of anxiety, and salvation to all who call on Him.

At this time of year, it is customary to look out for others in our family, friendship groups, the less privileged and wider community. And to care for God’s creation and the environment we live in. As we reach out to others, I am reminded of the need to share the joy, peace and goodwill to all people, because the Saviour has been born, whose birth we celebrate this Christmas.

God is with us, Emmanuel, speaking tons of love into our lives, giving us hope where there is hopelessness and reminding us that He is with us this Christmas and beyond. Remember, Christ in us is the Hope of glory. Do not fear. Trust in God and believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your friend and Messiah, because He was born for this reason in this season. HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

Merry Christmas and God’s blessings in the New Year.

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