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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Clifton: Christmas Message from Bishop Declan Lang
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Bishop Declan Lang
I know a man, a father of a family, for whom this will probably be his last Christmas.  Though only in his late forties he is suffering from cancer of the liver.  He and his family are facing up to the reality of the situation.

I know another family, where the teenage son is suffering from a major mental health problem.  A talented musician, with a bright future, this young man's life suddenly collapsed.  He has been unable to speak for a couple of months.  Once again this family is facing up to the reality of a changed life for them all.

Understandably, both families could feel hard done by and regard life as very unfair.  They could have a sense of despondence and feel sorry for themselves but in fact they are facing their problems in a positive and courageous way.  They are living life not just existing.  They value life more now that previously.

For these families life can be dark.  They seem sometimes to life their lives in the shadows, but their faith in God makes a difference.  They can understand the words of the prophet Isaiah who wrote centuries ago: "The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone."

Christmas is about a light coming into the darkness of the world.  The light is Christ and he comes into the reality of our lives, not into a pretend world.  The real world is a place of both joy and sadness, of light and darkness.  Sometimes we are frightened by life and feel over burdened by it.

To us, as to the shepherds on the first Christmas night, the angels proclaim: "Do not be afraid."  Do not be afraid of life.  Embrace it.

Faith in Christ, living according to his way is not something to be embarrassed about or regarded as something purely private and not public. Faith in Christ is to follow Jesus, who came so that we may have life and have it abundantly, no matter what the reality of life might be.  The life of Jesus was the reality of a human life lived in and with God.  Living with God, Jesus showed us how to be truly human and fully alive.  

It is only right that we should celebrate at Christmas and give presents but once the eating and drinking is over and the presents put away, what is left?  Hopefully much is left because we will have strengthened more fully our relationships with one another and with God.  To us and for all people, a Saviour has been born to us.  He is Christ the Lord.  


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