Bishop Michael's Christmas Message

15th December 2023

Recently I enjoyed a visit to Bath Abbey, where they were busy getting ready for a charity Carol service and just outside their doors there was the hustle and bustle of Bath with the Christmas market in full flow. People were buying presents. Traders were promoting their wares. Mulled wine, mince pies and a host of different treats were being enjoyed.

At Christmas, how does all that’s happening in places like the Christmas market relate to what’s going on in church? In the market and in the shops, it’s mainly about buying and selling, commerce in full flow. Whereas in the Abbey and in all our churches, the focus is on recalling the journey of Mary and Joseph, the birth in the stable, the arrival of the shepherds, the song of the angels, the visit of the Magi.

How can there be any connection between what looks like two very different worlds? Quite simply, the connection is Jesus. In him, God came to be at one with us. To share fully in every aspect of our humanity, from our physical needs to our enjoyment of the world that God has given us, to our spirituality, that hunger for the divine that’s at the heart of every human soul. When Jesus was born in that stable 2000 years ago, he came to join in every part of our human condition – from market, to church, to every place in which we find ourselves.

And as we look at the world around us at the close of this year, it’s important to remember that Jesus came to be with us not just for the good times, but for the difficult too. Jesus is ‘God with us’ everywhere– in trenches in Ukraine, bomb shelters in Israel and Gaza, in hospital wards where loved ones die, in relationships where there is conflict and distress. 

The baby born in Bethlehem stands with us in all that we experience. This child comes too to offer us the possibility of opening every part of our lives to the transforming power of God’s life of love and joy and peace. He comes so that every day we can become whole, a little more like him – growing into his likeness in every place in which we find ourselves – from our churches to our marketplaces, our homes to the whole of the world in which we live.

May the love, joy and peace of Jesus, the God who is with us, be yours this Christmas and always.


Bishop Michael is preaching at the following services during Christmas:

•   Bath Abbey - Midnight Mass 10:30pm
•   Wells Cathedral - Christmas Day Eucharist 9:30am


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