Traditionally Christmas is a time for the exchange of gifts – although this year some gifts may take longer to arrive because of the postal strike – and one very welcome gift for everybody affected would be a just resolution to the various disputes over pay and working conditions.
Recent strikes remind us of all the uncertainty that so many of us feel about the future because of inflation and rising fuel and food bills. It’s been much more of a struggle for families to make ends meet and find gifts for each other this Christmas. Peace of mind in place of anxiety would be a welcome gift in many homes.
Choosing the right gift for a friend or loved one is less important than the friendship or love that it represents. At Christmas we celebrate the greatest gift possible – the birth of a child – and this gift comes from the God whose name is love. The birth of Jesus Christ is the greatest sign of God’s love for every living being.
The season of good will is also a time when we feel our losses most keenly – especially the loss of loved ones who would have shared this festival with us. The death of Queen Elizabeth reminded us that our feelings of loss are another expression of our love.
This Christmas we remember and pray especially for the families of the four children who lost their lives so recently in Birmingham. May the child born at Bethlehem give them comfort and strength to face the coming year.
The deepest longings of our hearts find their fulfilment in the gift of Christ’s birth. Christmas celebrates God’s love for the world he made. May you and all those close to you be richly blessed by the gift of one another and the love of Christ this Christmas.
Most Rev Bernard Longley,
Archbishop of Birmingham