The Bishop of Carlisle’s Christmas Message 2021
The Bishop of Carlisle calls for people to refocus on the Good News of Jesus’ birth, in his annual Christmas message.
The Rt Rev James Newcome was filmed at his home in Keswick this year and chooses to reflect on the importance of ‘message’.
He asks people to put to one side the headline news and the commercialisation of Christmas and consider, instead, the importance of the Nativity story.
Bishop James says: “‘Did you get the message?’ at this time of year is a question about good news, not bad news.It’s asking whether we have managed to see beyond all the trappings of Christmas (the presents; the parties; Santa’s grotto; street decorations; maxed-out credit cards) to what is sometimes called ‘the reason for the season’. Or (once again?) – has that simply passed us by?”
He also reflects on the pressures that social media platforms can create in terms of messaging and the need for people to try to discern what messages are more important than others.
Bishop James concludes by calling on us all to understand the most important message of all: that Jesus was born and died for our salvation.
To view Bishop James’ Christmas message for 2021 visit the Diocese of Carlisle’s YouTube channel.
Notes to editors
A full transcript of Bishop James’ Christmas message for 2021 is attached below.
“‘Did you get the message?’ That was the first thing I heard as I walked into our kitchen a few days ago. ‘Did you get the message?’ It was about a meeting that had to be re-arranged at the last minute - and, as it happened, I had discovered just in time and managed to avoid making a wasted journey.
But what a pertinent question that is for all of us this Christmas. ‘Did you get the message?’ Not the one about a shortage of the most popular toys in shops and on-line (or the lack of HGV drivers to deliver them).Not the one about racism in cricket. Not even the one about a new strain of coronavirus that seems to have reached us from southern Africa.
‘Did you get the message?’ at this time of year is a question about good news, not bad news. It’s asking whether we have managed to see beyond all the trappings of Christmas (the presents; the parties; Santa’s grotto; street decorations; maxed-out credit cards) to what is sometimes called ‘the reason for the season’. Or (once again?) – has that simply passed us by?
Of course, nowadays we are endlessly bombarded with ‘messages’: e-mails; texts; Whatsapp posts; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; Snapchat – not to mention blogs, of which there is no obvious end. It would be easy to do little other than check them all addictively – which is what does seem to happen in some households. Some of these messages matter and are really important. Others, frankly, don’t and aren’t; but it isn’t always easy to discern the difference, and anyway you have to read them first to do the discerning. The significant ones can get lost under the avalanche.
So, the shepherds ‘watching their flocks in the fields’ that first Christmas were fortunate. They weren’t distracted by their digital devices. What’s more, the significance of the message they received could hardly have been more obvious. After all it was delivered not by a harassed courier in a van or a television presenter with several different items to report .It was delivered by ‘an angel of the Lord’, who spoke to them against a background of ‘the glory of the Lord’: God’s own presence shining brightly among them and around them. No wonder they were terrified. But the message itself was simple and direct ‘I bring you’ said the angel ‘good news of great joy to all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord’.
Well: to put it bluntly, that was the most dramatic and important message anyone, anywhere, at any time has ever received. Its implications were – and are – more than just far-reaching. They were – and are – mind-blowing in their scope (this is good news for everyone) and in their meaning (this is about not only life on earth but also the ultimate destiny of us all). That message – and what followed – changed the course of history, and established a foundation for everything we now value most.
So: Did you get the message? Or has the white noise of our incessant worldly distractions deafened us to what Christmas is really all about?We all of us need some good news for a change. For those with ears to hear (as Jesus used to say) – here it is.”
For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Head of Communications, on 07469 153658 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.