BISHOPS’ BLOGS

BISHOP ROBERT’S DIOCESE BLOG

https://bishopineurope.wordpress.com/

BISHOP DAVID’S DIOCESE BLOG

https://eurobishop.blogspot.co.uk/

The Bishop in Europe: The Right Reverend Dr. Robert Innes CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2020

In one of our best-loved carols, Christina Rossetti situates the birth of Jesus ‘in the bleak midwinter’. She paints a severe and freezing manger scene, with howling wind and deep snow. She represents the frosted earth and water with iron and stone. From the biblical narrative, it seems unlikely that Jesus was born in the bleak mid-winter, as the shepherds would not be putting their sheep out to pasture in freezing conditions. But that does not stop us gladly enjoying Rossetti’s romantic poetic licence and reminding ourselves that the conditions of the first Christmas were hard, extraordinarily hard by modern standards. Mary was a young girl giving birth a long way from home. The town of Bethlehem was crowded with strangers registering with the tax authorities of the occupying powers. Mary laid her new-born baby in an animal’s stone feeding trough. And the first visitors were not close family but rough men from the fields. It is extremely difficult to recover this first Christmas. The festival has become overlaid with medieval nativity scenes and Romantic or Dickensian winter scenes. In the twentieth century, Christmas became the setting of the perfect family gathering. Most significantly, the run up to the commercial Christmas – the ‘golden quarter’ – is a now a vital part of the retail industry’s overall wellbeing so that vasts sums are expended on advertising to persuade us to acquire more goods and more debt. But not in 2020. This year it will be very 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, struggling to breathe. 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. Another well-known – and much older – carol 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 merry’ in modern English means ‘may God grant you peace and happiness’. The unknown author continued: ‘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 Which brings tidings of comfort and joy.’ I wish each of you and your families comfort and joy as we approach this Christmas season. +Robert Gibraltar in Europe


ARCHIVES BELOW

MESSAGE FROM BISHOP DAVID 13 MAY 2020

Pope Francis has released a video which I post here to motivate us all. In it he calls on all believers, adherents of all religions to pray, fast and perform works of charity tomorrow.

CLICK BELOW FOR POPE FRANCIS VIDEO

https://youtu.be/Z8JhiYqzjgU

Tomorrow, 14 May, is an international, interreligious day of prayer to ask God to lift this pandemic from the world, and to inspire scientists to find a cure for the disease.

The inspiration for this comes from the “Higher Committee for Human Fraternity” which was set up when Pope Francis visited Abu Dhabi last year. The initiative transcends religious boundaries and invites all religious people to appeal to God, in accordance with their own faith and teachings.

Dr Clare Amos, our Director of Lay Discipleship, was previously the Interfaith Director at the World  Council of Churches. She has composed this prayer which I commend for use:

God of life, Creator of all, 

Your reach stretches beyond the farthest stars that we can see, 

Yet you are nearer to us than our own soul.  

In this time of crisis may your love draw human beings together,

Bridging the distance of place, of nationality, of ideology and religion.

Unite us as one in prayer to face together this enemy, the virus.

Free us from fear, grant us courage and compassion, make us generous in acts of charity,

And bring to effect our longing for the healing of this world. Amen

CLICK BELOW TO HEAR THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY’S EASTER SUNDAY SERMON CHRIST IS RISEN!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000h7lg

CLICK BELOW TO READ A LETTER FROM BISHOPS ROBERT AND DAVID

APPROACHING HOLY WEEK AND EASTER

BISHOP DAVID

25 MARCH 2020

The Pope’s invitation to all Christians

The Annunciation, (unknown), the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Addressing the leaders of all Christian Churches, communities and confessions worldwide, the Pope invites us all, on 25 March at 12 noon in each local time zone, to recite the prayer of all Christians.

“In these days of trial, as humanity trembles at the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, I would propose that all Christians join their voices together to heaven to invoke the Almighty, the All Powerful God, by reciting contemporaneously the prayer that Our Lord Jesus has taught us”.

25 March is the Feast of the Annunciation. Its central focus is the wondrous moment in history when the Eternal Word became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; in short God became one of us. The feast marks the dramatic entrance of the divine into our everyday world, God with us, Emmanuel. As we remember the closeness of God to us – God who took on our very flesh – Pope Francis encourages us in reciting our common prayer to remember the closeness of God to doctors, nurses, health workers, volunteers, the authorities who have to make difficult decisions for our common good, the closeness of God to those who are stricken with this disease and those who are alone.

As the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) suggests, Anglicans see the value of a ministry exercised by the Bishop of Rome as a sign and focus of unity within a reunited Church. We experience this ministry of unity in the call of Pope Francis to all Christians to join together in praying the Lord’s Prayer at this difficult time for people everywhere.

Spread this call to prayer on the Feast of the Annunciation through your networks and social media.

Annunciation by Nigerian artist Paul Woelfel

BISHOP ROBERT

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO SEE BISHOP ROBERT’S VIDEO 20 MARCH 2020

https://zoom.us/rec/play/75ckJuirqjk3GNCSsgSDBaV5W9Xvev2s0ykbrPpbyh28UHELMFX1ZucWNOJPXlVIi0RKRGqp5fgU1Mh0?continueMode=true

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