Be moved by the astonishing love of God - A Christmas Message

[video:] In a Christmas video message, available online, the Bishop of Ripon has focussed on the calling of the church to love others  and to act for the common good of all. Referring to the statement of Antoine Leiris, who’s wife was killed in the Paris Bataclan theatre attack by terrorists, he says that for the church love should be the highest calling, motivated by the love of God in sending his Son at Christmas

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A Christmas Message - +James Bell, Area Bishop of Ripon

“One of the most moving quotes of 2015 has got to be from Antoine Leiris. He wrote a letter to the terrorists who killed his wife Helene, the mother of his baby son, in the massacre in the Bataclan theatre in Paris. “You will not have my hatred,” he said. “You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are.”

“One of the most moving quotes of all time has got to be “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...” More than a refusal to hate: a gift of love. God loves that which is hostile to him so much that he gives his Son, gives himself, to break down the hostility. God’s love for the world takes us to the heart of Christmas and to the heart of what it is to be church.

“The early church was taught to think of charity – love – as the highest of virtues. That lover inspired the building of hospitals and alms houses, and “made feeding the hungry and clothing the naked”  a path of spiritual enlightenment which affirmed the intrinsic dignity of every human soul.

 “What might it look like if we – the church locally and globally – were moved to make love our motivating force: love for the world, love for those about us, love for fellow members of the church? What might the quotes of 2016 sound like if those were the stories that were to be told?

“Of course, it all rests on us being moved - moved to the core of our being. What better way to celebrate Christmas than being moved by the astonishing love of God to act for the common good of all?  Happy Christmas and a peaceful new year to you all.”

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