A Christmas message from The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE.
There is a message that every person in Ireland needs to hear and take to heart this Christmas whether we live in Northern Ireland or the Republic. It is good news in what has been a terrible year for so many: To you is born in the City of David a Saviour, Christ, the Lord.
We may be angry, frustrated and worried for the future. We may feel let down and ashamed in our economic situation, as well as stunned by the speed of it all. Yet we also know that most adults bear a measure of responsibility for what has happened. Greed took possession of us and we discovered too late that what has undermined the country is a false reality and a neglect of the moral and social relationships that really matter. However, the Christmas message is this: God has not and will not write us off. The birth of Christ demonstrates that we are not worthless, indeed we are of infinite worth in God’s eyes, and therefore we can be confident that He loves us and continues to consider us worth caring for.
And there is more good news: we are down but we are not out! We need to re-establish the values and principles that are surer and more admirable foundations for society than those which seduced us. Generosity and thrift in place of selfishness and greed; honesty and straightforwardness in place of self delusion; kindness; unselfish care for others; the priority of community; most of all a turning to God and to worship which means placing service and spiritual enrichment at the forefront of our personal and national lives. We also need a new vision of society as one extended family, a single community of persons committed to one another by obligations of love and respect. To love means to give and receive that which can neither be bought nor sold, neither earned nor stolen.
At Christmas, God in Christ turns towards us, advances and envelopes us in an embrace which accepts and respects us despite our failures. After all we have been through and all that may lie ahead, now is the time for us to turn towards him and to restore the wholesomeness of our broken but not irreparable common life.
I bring you good news that in Christ all is made new, the old had been swept away, behold new life, new hope, new love and a new future are at hand. This will be the sign: you will find a child, wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. Let us, therefore, go now to Bethlehem to see, and make our own, this thing that has taken place which the Lord each year makes known to us at Christmas. God bless you and fill you with Christmas hope and Christmas joy.