The Bishop of Carlisle's Christmas Message 2019
The Bishop of Carlisle has filmed his annual Christmas message from the main stage of Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake.
Drawing on the theatre’s festive production – A Christmas Carol - the Rt Rev James Newcome reflects on the tradition of Christmas carols and the need to seek God’s peace as we face the challenges of climate change, terrorism and increased inequality.
He says: “Glory to God in the highest Heavens and peace on earth: the two things which our distracted and fractured world needs the most this year, as every year.
“Glory to God because God has made us, God loves us and if we lose sight of God we lose track of our compass and the purpose we have in living. And peace here on earth: our divided earth facing the challenges that we all face of climate change, of terrorism, of growing inequalities, of disease.”
Prior to filming Bishop James enjoyed a brief backstage tour courtesy of the theatre’s Head of Communications, Rachel Swift, and Technical Manager Andrew Lindsay, who explained more about the staging of the Charles Dickens tale which runs until 11 January.
He said: “I would like to thank everyone at the Theatre by the Lake for allowing us to film this Christmas message from the main auditorium’s stage.
“One of my daughters, Anna, is an actor so I’m well aware of the huge amount of work that goes into staging a production like A Christmas Carol. It was wonderful to have something of a sneak peek behind the scenes!
“This Christmas classic is built on key themes of compassion, love, salvation and redemption as the central character Scrooge finally learns what is important in life. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ, so we need to continue to hold these dear.”
To view Bishop James’ Christmas message for 2019 click below.
Notes to editors
A full transcript of Bishop James’ Christmas message for 2019 is attached below.
“We’re recording this Christmas message on the stage of the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, where the scene is set for this year’s wonderful Christmas show, which is actually called a Christmas Carol.
I wonder if you will be attending a carol service this year. According to the statistics quite probably because next to Remembrance Day and Christingle apparently carol services are one of the most popular types of services there are. I get invited to quite a number of them which suits me very well; I absolutely love them. I like the music, I like the words and I like the atmosphere, especially on Christmas Eve. Apparently the most popular carol is Away in a Manger, followed pretty closely by Silent Night and then O Little Town of Bethlehem.
But some centuries ago only one carol was allowed to be sung in church. Interestingly that was While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night and the reason for this rather strange edict was a belief that this was the only carol that adequately reflected the Bible story of the birth of Jesus. I’m quite glad that I wasn’t around then because actually, to be honest, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night is probably my least favourite carol. The thought of singing it over and over again doesn’t appeal!
Going back even further in time, carols were sung long before the birth of Jesus. They were originally pagan songs, sung to celebrate the winter solstice. Like many other pagan customs they were taken over by the Christian church and duly transformed. But the Christian church was simply copying the so-called Angelic Host which according to St Luke sang the first ever Christmas carol. They sang to those shepherds watching their flocks ‘Glory to God in the highest Heaven and peace to people on earth whom God favours’.
‘Glory to God in the highest Heavens and peace on earth’: the two things which our distracted and fractured world needs the most this year, as every year. Glory to God because God has made us, God loves us and if we lose sight of God we lose track of our compass and the purpose we have in living. And peace here on earth: our divided earth facing the challenges that we all face of climate change, of terrorism, of growing inequalities, of disease and so on and so on. My prayer this year, as every year, is that you will know the peace of God which passes all understanding, the peace that only He can give, in your heart and in your home.”
For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.