Joint Christmas Message from the Bishops of Clogher (2004)

15 Dec 2004





The Christmas event mounts a challenge to our increasingly bland secular
culture. The time-honoured picture of the child in the stable, attended by
Mary and Joseph, moves us gently through the commotion of gifts and
shopping to the innocence and wonder of childhood and the fascinating
miracle of a new human life.

Christmas reminds us of what religion actually is and how it seeks to
bring the best out in us. The familiar feelings we associate with the
feast, the domestic warmth and neighbourly peace, the general air of
good will; we appreciate their worth as a tonic to the human spirit. We
make our own contribution by our caring for family members, by
our selection of gifts, by our special effort to remember and contact
those in need. We need only reflect on these expressions of generosity
of spirit to be drawn to the ultimate source of love and bounty. The song
of the angels rings out in our sky, as it did in the sky of the shepherds.

The serious challenge of all this is to ground our Christmas generosity
in a personal commitment. Otherwise Christmas becomes merely another
passing experience, like the experience of a good drama or an interesting
documentary. There may be a feeling of being satisfied and happy;
but no sense of the experience having any further claim on us. In a world
where the senses are arguably overloaded, one can see how the effects of
even the most profound experience wear off so quickly as to leave little
or no trace. This is why we need to see each single celebration of Christmas
as a highly significant birthday, one single day every year in a cyclical
pattern of prayer and behaviour it has taken centuries to shape.

The Christmas experience for all its value and attractiveness is but
the cover of a high-quality picture book which everybody has to take
up, open and read. It points up vividly for every Christian a chosen
way of life but leaves it to each of us, with the Lord’s help, to
develop that life for ourselves.

+Michael Jackson
Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher

+Joseph Duffy
Catholic Bishop of Clogher

Further information:

Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)