York Press Christmas message

24/12/2018

Archbishop holding candles by Christmas tree The Office of the Archbishop of York

The Archbishop writes in York Press today, encouraging all to become beacons of light, joy and laughter for others...

So, York’s legendary panto dame is finally hanging up his outrageous dresses and wig after 41 years entertaining the masses at York Theatre Royal?! Berwick Kaler - I thank God for all you’ve brought to our city for so long over this festive season. What a wonderful legacy of joy and laughter he leaves behind.

Little surprise that dedicated fans queue through the night 10 months before Christmas to be the first to get their hands on tickets. It’s a good example of how infectious joy can be. Berwick has amassed a huge, loyal following because he helps people feel better about themselves and the world around them. What a gift!

Over this Advent season, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to follow faithfully. It’s so much easier when times are good and the path is wide and neat. Not so much when things become hard and the road becomes rocky.

Take our beloved York City. It was easy to follow the Minstermen when they were winning play-off finals and beating the mighty Man Utd 3-0!  It’s more difficult now as they struggle for momentum in National League North. It’s a good thing I believe in resurrection! Let’s keep following the team. COME ON CITY!

I’ve found following Jesus Christ to be my life’s greatest challenge and adventure. Exhilarating and life-giving - and at times costly and difficult.

For me, the Nativity characters we dress up as, read and sing about over this Advent and Christmas season were the ultimate followers. Ordinary people of extraordinary faithfulness.

Into the lives of Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds came this massive God disruption, centred around the birth of this baby called Jesus - a message of hope and salvation to the world.

Despite their fear and confusion, they did what God was calling them to do and go where God was calling them to go. Their decision to follow changed them and changed the world.  They became agents of hope. Light coming into the darkness.

I’ve been encouraging everyone to #FollowTheStar this month. Discovering for yourselves the life-changing joy of knowing Jesus as a Saviour and friend. For many of us, Christmas brings up so many emotions, memories and expectations. For you it might be a time of happiness and togetherness. Many others can find it a sad and lonely time – nagged by the feeling that your Christmas is not like those ‘perfect’ ones we see on the TV. But just like the unexpected allsorts of people who were invited to meet the baby Jesus, to follow him doesn’t mean getting rid of your imperfections first. Rather, it’s about coming just as you are with a desire to be transformed.

Wherever you are this Christmas, you are invited to follow the star and to be with Jesus. You are invited to come to him. You are deeply known and truly loved.

Let’s #FollowtheStar and work together to share God’s love made visible at Christmas with everyone we meet.

Let’s ‘Do a Berwick’ and seek to become beacons of light, joy and laughter for others.

Why not hear the good news of Jesus for yourself by visiting your local church?  I’ll be preaching at York Minster tomorrow at 10am. I invite you to join me – or visit www.achurchnearyou.com for details of your local services.

A Blessed Christmas to you and yours!