Diocesan press releases

Bishop’s Message: Advent 2015

Bishop Richard Pain asks us to bring the judgement call of Christ to our daily lives this Advent:  

The run up to Christmas for millions of viewers now includes the finale of Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor.  Half of the fun is to see the judges in action and witness the joy or despair of the contestants.  It gives us the opportunity to be judge and jury as well.

Judgement is in the air as well as on it.  We live in a society that is in danger of being polarised by global events as they impact on our part of the world. Whether it is IS or Russia the media and many of us in conversations make judgement calls. So, how do we square this with the season of Advent and the second coming of Jesus and its message of universal judgement? Perhaps, if we gave it a thought, we might conclude that it’s not going to be in our life time so it doesn’t matter and anyway God will sort it out the world’s evil when or if the coming happens.

RichardSo what does it matter?  Well, general attitudes of judgement can ease the way to prejudice and it’s easy to make God fit our view of the world.  The bible offers various ideas about judgement but I feel safer when I listen to the message of Jesus and look at his actions.  What was Jesus’s judgement call? It was about being obedient to God that we might be shaped into the people he calls us to be.  And that was essentially to be better human beings. If Jesus got angry it was with those who by their attitudes and actions diminished men and women who are made in the image of God.  He healed that his brothers and sisters might be restored in body, mind and spirit. His judgement call was transforming love and he demonstrated it fully by taking on the inhumanity of sin on the cross.

The church has a mission to bring that judgement call to daily life.  Our judgement lies not in making quick and easy denouncements of what is obviously wrong – anyone can do that.  No, our judgement requires us to align ourselves with the sovereign will of a loving God for his people.  It requires us not to judge in the usual way but to discern the potential and actual presence of Godly love in a situation and to believe in it and , in so far as it lies with us, make it real.

The Kingdom of God is in our midst and part of our journey as Christians is to see it for real. To understand that God is already in the world and present in our communities, in our work places, our shopping centres and at home.  The Vision of Advent is to see this and believe in the work of God rather than ignore it! There is a subtlety in God’s engagement in the world that cannot be heard or seen when the volume of prejudice is turned up.  Our faith communities are places where peace and discernment of rightful living and humanity may flourish.  Christ comes to bring the potential of a good life and make it happen and we rejoice in it.

Enjoy Advent, judge well and make it real.

+Richard