Dr. John W. Holder, Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Barbados
My dear friends in Christ,
Greetings to you in this season of love and cheer when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ.
Christmas each year provides for us a time for reflection. We are provided with a little space, away from the hectic life we lead, to pause and to reflect on the goodness of God. We reflect on some of the positive and good things about our life and life in general. We reflect on peace, love, joy and goodwill.
At this time we also seek to share forgiveness and compassion for these are absolutely necessary for a life of peace.
Peace at all levels comes under a threat from violence. It is very easy at this time, with all the great thoughts and sentiments of Christmas, to push this negative element aside. But some somewhere in the world will not have a Christmas of peace because their life has been torn apart by violence.
At Christmas time we emphasise in many ways the importance of family. We hope and we pray that for families throughout the world Christmas will be a time of peace. Let us do our part to ensure that we are not the source of violence, but that we are instruments of peace within our families
We will hear once more this year those wonderful words from St. Luke’s Gospel: “Peace on earth and goodwill to all people”.
Make a commitment on this Christmas day to share and live this hope in a world where violence seems to be far more popular than peace.
Christians believe that peace is a gift of God. It is a gift that can make a great difference in any life. At this time of giving and receiving of gifts, why not make a great effort to be God’s instrument of peace for someone who needs it, and so make a difference in their life?
Along with peace, there can be no greater gift than forgiveness for someone who has hurt us and wants to reach out to us again at this Christmas time. There can be no greater gift than compassion for someone who needs our help and understanding, in order to move on to a better place. Love is still the greatest of gifts that can transform lives for good.
Let us share these great gifts, that were present in the ministry of our Lord, this Christmas. They can surely help someone to understand, and to experience the Christian belief that God is love, and that this love came down to us at the first Christmas, and is at work in the lives of all who confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
If we truly believed that “Love came down at Christmas” and we can confess that we have experienced this love, let us share it with those who need to be reassured of God’s love.
May God grant you a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
— Your friend and Bishop