I have two abiding images of this last week. One of the experience of my ordination as Bishop in Canterbury Cathedral, surrounded by the love and the prayers of so many, literally surrounded by my brother and sister bishops as they joined in the ordination prayer, images that brought with them a deep sense of being both called and sent, sent to share the love of God as a disciple of his son Jesus Christ.
The other is of the continuing, but little noticed crisis in the Yemen where war has torn this beautiful country apart, of babies, malnourished, struggling and in many cases, failing to live. Then in one photograph the hand of a doctor is seen gently caressing the tiny limbs of one such child, communicating, through touch, warmth, love and care. At the beginning of what for me is a new ministry among the people of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire this has been a powerful reminder of what we are called to, the humanity we are all, whatever our faith, called to share, humanity which the church is called to live not to shame the world but to bring light to the world. To belong, to be cared for, and to be loved is the most precious gift we can ever receive. It is also a gift to be shared, to be lived without boundaries without limits.
The truth is that, however hard this may be, I am connected to that child, bound in a common humanity, that child is my child, because we are both God’s child, she is waiting for my love, my care. I cannot abandon her any more than I believe God can abandon me.
By the Rt Revd Robert Springett, Bishop of Tewekesbury
I love football! Since the age of about 6 it has been my favourite sport, and has had the ability to occupy my attention for hours on end – playing, watching, reading about… I have to admit though, that until last week, I had not heard of the South American team Chapecoense.
As I was hearing the early reports of the tragic air crash in Colombia, my attention was grabbed on hearing that almost a whole football team might be involved. And as the news has gradually come out – what a tragedy overall.
What has particularly touched me have been the ways in which people have paid tribute to those who have died – thousands packing football stadia to remember and then Chapecoense being awarded the Copa Sudamericana, with the tag line ‘Eternal Champions’.
One or two people have commented to me, ‘oh how sad – especially at this time of year’ and my initial response has been to agree. But on reflection, I think this time of year actually tells us a lot about the hard times in life.
For me, Christmas time is as much about times of trial as it is about happy, family celebrations. This month we are marking the birth of Jesus as God coming into the world and sharing the whole reality of humanity – tears, pain and the laughter and joy. My favourite carol (Once in Royal David’s City) includes the phrase, ‘and he feeleth for our sadness and he shareth in our gladness’. This year as I sing those words, I will think of the anguish of those lost in this plane crash, and the pain of the world, as well as giving thanks for the fun and love – because God is here with us in it all.
By the Revd Canon Katrina Scott, Area Dean of the North Cotswolds