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The Bishop of Carlisle’s Christmas Message 2018

The Bishop of Carlisle uses his annual Christmas message to call on people to give their full attention to God and others during this year’s festivities.

The Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle with Kate Clement, manager of the Penrith OpShop.The Rt Rev James Newcome filmed his festive message at the Penrith OpShop, one of seven charity shops run by the Diocese of Carlisle, the Church of England in Cumbria. The OpShop network recently launched a Men in Sheds project in Carlisle to encourage people to come together to make things while also combatting isolation and loneliness.

Bishop James is seen meeting staff and customers at the shop on the town’s Bluebell Lane, before reflecting on the need for a renewed focus on God and others around us this Christmas.

Referring to the gifts given to the infant Jesus by the Three Wise Men, Bishop James continues: “The question this raises is ‘What can we give him?’ Well, let me offer a suggestion. God becoming a human being in Jesus shows us that God is giving us his full and complete attention. What he wants in return from us is our attention too. So the suggestion is that perhaps this year we give God the attention that he deserves and try to listen to what he may be saying to us, maybe through a carol service, crib service or Christingle service. It may be through a neighbour or a friend. It may be something that just occurs to us as we are trying to listen to what he says as we’re out on the hills.

“Perhaps we can extend that a little further to the attention we offer to one other person over Christmas: it may be a relative we find a bit annoying, a neighbour, or somebody who comes to see us. Whoever it turns out to be, one of the things that will give most pleasure is us giving our rapt and complete attention to one other person; that person who’s been made in his image and who’s loved completely by him, just as we are.”

Bishop James also takes the opportunity to flag up the Church of England’s national campaign #Follow the Star. People can sign up for a ‘life-changing Christmas journey’ at https://www.churchofengland.org/followthestar.

Bishop James continues: “The idea is that this year each of us should follow our own star in order to find Jesus and to meet him for ourselves.”

To view Bishop James’ Christmas message for 2018 visit the Diocese of Carlisle’s Youtube channel here.

Notes to editors

• The full transcript of Bishop James’ speech is attached below.

“I’m here in the Penrith OpShop which is doing brisk business and welcoming a lot of people who come in here not only to buy things but also to have a good chat and - at this time of the year - to have a mince pie and a sweet as well.

This year the Church of England is conducting what might be described as a marketing exercise. It’s called Follow the Star, you may have come across it, and it’s a reference of course to the star that those wise men from the east followed when they came to find the baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. And the idea is that this year each of us should follow our own star in order to find Jesus and to meet him for ourselves. But of course that raises a very interesting question. When those wise men found Jesus, they presented him with a number of gifts: one of them gave him gold as a sign that he was a king, one of them gave him frankincense as a sign that he was a god to be worshipped and a third one gave him myrrh, pre-figuring his crucifixion and his death for every one of us on the cross.

So the question this raises is ‘What can we give him?’ Well let me offer a suggestion. God becoming a human being in Jesus shows us that God is giving us his full and complete attention. What he wants in return from us is our attention too. So the suggestion is that perhaps this year we give God the attention that he deserves and try to listen to what he may be saying to us, maybe through a carol service, crib service or Christingle service. It may be through a neighbour or a friend. It may be something that just occurs to us as we are trying to listen to what he says as we’re out on the hills.

But perhaps we can extend that a little further to the attention we offer to one other person over Christmas: it may be a relative we find a bit annoying, a neighbour, or somebody who comes to see us. Whoever it turns out to be, one of the things that will give most pleasure is us giving our rapt and complete attention to one other person; that person who’s been made in his image and who’s loved completely by him, just as we are. I heard it said the other day that the best gift we can give to anybody is our complete and rapt attention. So just as it says in that lovely carol In The Bleak Midwinter ‘What can I give him, poor as I am?’ there is a possible answer. We can give God our attention and we can give the people around us our attention as well. May you have a very happy and blessed Christmas.”

Ends

 

For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.

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