The Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Paul Colton, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork, the Most Reverend John Buckley, have issued their joint Christmas message for 2012. This is the thirteenth year in which the Bishops have issued a joint Christmas message. The practice started in the year of Christ’s Millennium; 2000.
Here is the Bishops’ message for Christmas 2012:
This remains a time of extraordinary need in our country and in our local communities. Economic uncertainty, commercial vulnerability and people strained to their financial limit continue to be a major concern to us all. Christmas, with the message that ‘God is with us’ brings hope where there may be hopelessness, and light in darkness.
The meaning of Christmas, which is both comforting and challenging, can all too easily be lost in a seasonal world of pantomime, party, decorations and festivity. All of those do, of course, have their traditional place at this time of year. Within the Churches, Christians too, over the centuries, have dressed Christmas up in all sorts of ways, such as manger scenes far removed from reality, Victorian carols, and much else that risk concealing the life-changing and radical good news – the Gospel – that, in Jesus, God came among us and shared our human experience.
The birth of the baby at Christmas – the Incarnation of the Word of God – altered the course of human history and has been a force for change in society, as well as in the lives of people, in every age and place.
In our message this year, as again we personally witness as local bishops to our shared journey of Christian faith, we invite all people of faith to mark out this Christmas as a time of personal faithfulness and witness to the heart of the Christmas message.
We can do this by reaching out with friendship and practical support to our neighbours of all religious outlooks; by taking time to reflect again on the Gospel account of the birth of Jesus Christ; by putting worship at the centre of our Christmas celebrations; through acts of generosity and kindness; in the hospitality and service we offer to those in need, whether ourselves or through organisations and charities that we support.
In the words of one traditional seasonal blessing, therefore, we wish you and yours the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the obedience of Mary and Joseph, and most especially, the peace of the Christ-child for this Christmas 2012 and for the New Year, 2013.