The new Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Toby Howarth has broadcast his own Christmas message for Bradford via community radio station, BCB Radio – and has also written a Christmas message in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus newspaper (read here).
In his radio message, Bishop Toby said,
"When the angel appeared to Joseph on the first Christmas, the angel said that one of the baby's names would be Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us'. In a world as troubled as ours, that's a powerful message. We are still reeling with the families of those affected by the attack on that school in Pakistan. We are so aware of all those struggling with Ebola in West Africa. We're aware of all those struggling here in Bradford in one way or another. But as a parent, I know that what really matters, especially to a small child, is that you're there, with the child. You may not be able to do much at all. You may not be able to take away the pain or answer the questions, but you're there. And the birth of Jesus and Christmas says to us, God is with us. He knows. A direct translation of a phrase in the gospels is that God, in Christ, 'pitched his tent with us'. Jesus grew up in a harsh world under a cruel dictatorship, but with good friends and seeing real change in people around him.
“And that gives us hope. I'm so looking forward to the new year in Bradford, my first as bishop here. I'm putting together a programme of visits around the area, spending a week at a time in five different parts of the district, staying in people's homes, visiting schools, churches, mosques and other places of worship, going to places of work, and meeting clergy and congregations. Seeing what life looks like from these different perspectives. Seeing what it means that God is with us in the different parts of the city and metropolitan district. Hearing the stories of life and hope and joy as well as the difficult stories. Stories sometimes of lives touched by pain, but also of lives touched by Jesus Christ.
“So when I say 'happy Christmas!' that isn't a shallow greeting. It's a prayer that the presence of God among us, in Christ, will be powerfully felt in this great city of Bradford, my new home. And it's a prayer that maybe later this evening, when we've got a bit of peace and quiet, we will have the time to reflect on the Christmas story and to recognise in the Christ Child, 'Emmanuel' God with us. “