Bishop of Bedford Richard Inwood’s Christmas message

LOTS of Christmas cards being posted and received around this time will have the word ‘Peace’ in them somewhere.

We talk of Christmas as being a season of peace and goodwill and wish these things for our friends and family. Yet we are living through difficult times – times which hardly make us feel peaceful in our own selves.

For many there is the fear of holding on to their jobs; for others there is coping with no paid employment; and for yet others there is the fear of sliding further into debt as they try to match the rising cost of keeping warm with their static income.

The news internationally is not encouraging either – with the financial crisis in Europe and the turmoil in parts of the Middle East.

But still we wish each other a happy and peaceful Christmas! Is this just wishful thinking or is there something more? I feel many people have a sense that true peace is not something that depends on outward circumstances but on something deep inside them.

Being at peace with oneself – and at peace with God, if you believe in God – is hugely important.

Christians believe that the coming of Jesus into the world brings that sort of peace – God’s peace – into the hearts and lives of ordinary human beings. There’s an old hymn which is rarely sung these days which has a verse which sums this up: ‘Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round? In Jesus’ presence nought but calm is found’.

Perhaps we all should find a quiet moment in all the bustle of preparing for the festival to discover that peace which only comes from the presence of God.

May God’s peace and joy be with you this Christmas time.

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