A joint Christmas message, filmed in urban and rural locations in Lancashire, has been issued today by Rt Rev Philip North, the Bishop of Blackburn and Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster.
The short film, available now on our Diocesan YouTube channel, sees Bishop Philip speaking from the streets of Preston City centre and Bishop Jill amongst days-old calves in a barn at Newlands Farm near Dolphinholme!
In the film, Bishop Philip contrasts Bethlehem at the time of Jesus with today when it is at the centre of new conflict. He highlights how, 2000 years ago Jesus was born into a world of conflict and political turmoil; but Jesus showed people a different way of being alive.
Bishop Jill, meanwhile, invites people to find their ‘true home’ in Jesus adding: “Christmas may be a challenging one or it may be full of laughter but whether it’s in joy or sorrow, you’re most welcome to come home to your local church family this Christmas.”
- Find your local church this Christmas by visiting www.achurchnearyou.com
- If you are struggling this Christmas, you can also find some comfort with our brand new ‘Blue Christmas’ video.
The full text of the message is below.
Bishop Jill begins …
The Christmas story is full of unlikely people with unlikely news in unlikely places.
I’m here at Newlands Farm with some very licky cows, but 2000 years ago when the angels had left the stable, the shepherds said: ‘lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened’.
Bishop Philip continues …
Bethlehem. What comes to mind when you hear the name of that city?
If you’re like me, it’s the images from the Christmas cards and carols which describe a peaceful place. In our imaginations Bethlehem is always calm and still and covered in snow.
But today Bethlehem is anything but peaceful. By contrast it is at the centre of a terrifying conflict. This Christmas, the land where Jesus was born and lived is in turmoil as war rages between Israel and Palestine.
Many people might think the fighting in the Holy Land somehow undermines the message of Christmas. But for me, it carries us to the heart of what Christmas is all about.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus was born into a world of conflict and political turmoil. But in the midst of it he showed people a different way of being alive. You see, he is God. In him God has come to share in ordinary human life. And that means ordinary humans can share in God’s life.
Today in 2023, we still live in a world of conflict. But the good news is that Jesus is still present in the midst of it. In following him we don’t find an escape route from our problems. Rather we find the solution to them.
In Jesus, God has come to share in our lives. So that means that we can live God’s life. We can find our true home in Jesus. A world of conflict and sin is not the end of the story. Because of that child laid in the straw in Bethlehem, you and I can know everlasting peace with God. And that means we can be people of peace today.
Bishop Jill concludes …
We can find our true home in Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Because Jesus has come and made his home with us, we can make our home with Him and that home is the blissful peace of knowing him.
That is why ‘all is calm, all is bright’, but to bring to birth the prince of peace, God chose an unlikely teenage mum and an unlikely birthing space with unlikely guests at a Bethlehem baby shower.
And the same maybe everything may be not as you planned it this Christmas, not all will be calm and bright, your Christmas may be a challenging one or it may be full of laughter, but whether it’s in joy or sorrow, you’re most welcome to come home to your local church family this Christmas.
Unlikely people, with unlikely news; news of peace in a troubled world. And our prayer is that you may find his peace from heaven, your true home in Jesus this Christmas.
Courtesy of Diocese of Blackburn.