‘God rest you’ this Christmas season
Here is an extract from the Christmas Message of the Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe:
This year Christmas will be different. Travel bans, lockdowns and quarantines mean it will be harder and perhaps impossible to get together with our loved ones. People are poorer. High streets, at least at the time of writing, are closed in many countries. And even when they re-open, shopping isn’t quite the same when you have to physically distance and wear a mask.
Christmas will be simpler this year. And for many it will be sadder. As Covid-19 has progressed, more and more families have been affected by the virus and its frightening and sometimes long-term symptoms. Some of us have a relative who has been in intensive care. Many of us know someone who has very sadly lost their life, and some of us face the first Christmas without someone close to us. This year perhaps we more intuitively sense the harshness of the manger scene, the cruelty of death, the pain of a bleak mid-winter.
The well-known carol ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ speaks to us about ‘tidings of comfort and joy’. In 2020 we need to hear these tidings. For Christmas is, at heart, the story of a God who draws near to us in Jesus, sharing the sorrows and joys of human experience. In the mystery of the incarnation, the eternal God wonderfully condescends to be born as a human baby, in the roughest conditions. He is Immanuel, the God who is with us.
Whatever conditions you face this Christmas, I hope you will be able to reach out and find the God who is with us. I hope you will take comfort from the presence of God with you, and perhaps also find opportunity to comfort others.
‘God rest you’ in modern English means ‘may God grant you peace and happiness’. As the carol continues: ‘Let nothing you dismay/for Jesus Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas Day/to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray/Oh tidings of comfort and joy’.
I wish each of you and your families ‘comfort and joy’ during this Christmas season.
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