A Christmas message from The Rt Revd John Stroyan, Bishop of Warwick
IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ So begins Charles Dickens’ epic historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Words we might use today, at such a time as this, a time of divisions, increasing tribalism and polarisation, ‘us and them’, dividing the world between ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. And we have seen the growth of ‘fake news’ in the public square and on social media and of trolling online when people say what they know is not true and harass and threaten others. In the last year more and more people are needing to use foodbanks to survive and we see more and more people sleeping on the streets.
But in the midst of all these things, which we must work together to change, there are many signs of hope, of light, of love, of compassion and public service. So many people give their time to help others in need across Warwickshire and make such a difference to the lives of so many. There are many inspiring young people serving their local communities in Warwickshire and many working for peace and justice here and across the country. Fresh in our minds will be the tragic events on London bridge and the inspirational examples of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones who looked for the best and not the worst in people, who did not settle for a ‘goodies and baddies’ mentality but saw the possibility of good and of redemption in those who have committed crimes. This is how God sees us.
The good news of Christmas is that God comes to meet us as we are. God did not wait for humans to sort things out before he sent Jesus to live among us. Many people imagine that the Christian faith is all about rules. Actually it is not. It is about relationship. God who loves each of us more than we can imagine invites us into a relationship. If we truly say ‘Yes’ to God, God comes to us and God ‘makes his home in us’ as St John writes. Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, who is a Christian, put it well: ‘I know that I am in sensationally good hands.’ God loves each of us whether or not we love him, but if we respond to God’s love, if we welcome Jesus, things will start to change in us and through us.
The Rt Revd John Stroyan
Bishop of Warwick