Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland have released a joint Christmas message for the faithful of Scotland.
The collaboration between Archbishop Leo Cushley and the Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton is a powerful symbol of Christian unity in a deeply troubled world.
It follows the signing of the historic Saint Margaret Declaration last year, which recognises that the two churches have more in common than divides them and are brothers and sisters in Christ.
The friendship agreement acknowledges the divisions of the past, apologises for the hurt and harm caused and seeks to make amends, asserting ‘we repent and ask forgiveness of one other.’
Last month, Mrs Foster-Fulton met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome and they both agreed on the importance of ecumenical and interfaith work and being a prayerful and prophetic voice for peace and harmony.
The joint Christmas Message:
“The light shines in the darkness”. (Gospel of John 1:5)
“As we approach together the season of Christmas, we do so in company with all who share our faith and with people of good will everywhere.
Our faith is in the One who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago and that is a faith shared across the face of the global space we inhabit.
We write as representatives of two traditions within the Christian faith and affirm our common faith in the One who is the light of the world: Jesus Christ.
We confess with sorrow that too often we have allowed ourselves to be divided by that which is different, rather than being united by that which we hold together in common – our faith in Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
By the grace of God, we are changing and we pray that the light of God may now shine more clearly through us.
We say this because we are certain that our world stands more in need of light than of darkness.
Sadly, there is too much darkness in our world today.
Whether it be here in Scotland or in broken and divided lands across the world, we need more light.
We need more light to overcome conflict and to heal ancient wounds.
We need more light to enable us to better feed the hungry and to relieve the suffering of others.
We need more light to enable us to be better stewards of creation and to reap the harvest of life.
We say this in the sure knowledge that, even in the darkest of times, the light of God still shines.
As much as the wise men of ancient times needed light from above to guide them to the place where the Christ-child was born, we need light to guide us today.
The simplicity of the traditional nativity scene, with the star shining above, rather stands in contrast with the hustle and bustle of much of the contemporary festive season as we try to reconcile the many demands placed upon our time.
As we struggle through the gathering gloom of a short December day, the light is short and the night seems long.
It is perhaps especially then that we need light to guide us.
Knowing this to be so, we say again that what we hold together in common is our faith in Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Knowing this to be so, we invite you to walk in the light of God first revealed in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.
God’s light has surely come into our world.”