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Christmas Message from Bishop John

A Christmas message from the Bishop of Warwick has been published in local newspapers.

Bishop John says:

What makes us most happy? What makes us most unhappy? The answer to both questions is the same: relationships. Good relationships make us happy. Bad relationships make us unhappy. What makes for good relationships? Love. What makes for bad relationships? Lack of love.

We don’t have to look far to see or to feel the pain and suffering caused by bad relationships. We see it between nations and within nations. We see it between families and within families and – if we are honest – we probably both see it and feel it in our own lives.

One of the shortest correspondences published in the Times went as follows: first letter ‘What is wrong with the world?’ Second letter, in response, was two words: ‘I am’. Until we recognise that we can be part of the problem we can never be part of the solution. We are each capable of great selfishness and we are also each capable of great selflessness. Just after the sinking of the Titanic, there was an article in the same newspaper about one of its passengers. She was a very wealthy lady with a suite of rooms. As the Titanic was going down, she pleaded with one of the crew to go back to her rooms to pick up her very valuable jewellery before getting in to the lifeboat. She rushed back to her rooms and was about to grab her jewellery box when she noticed on the table a bowl, full of fruit. She paused and then, ignoring her jewellery, picked up the fruit to take to share with the lifeboat passengers.

Each day brings us opportunities to be either selfish or selfless. But being selfish, however odd this may sound, does not make us happy, as research in Warwick and other universities has proved. Giving to others in need leads to a greater sense of wellbeing than spending our money on ourselves. For people of faith, this should come as no surprise because every human being is made in the image of God who is love and the giver of all good gifts. The way of the world tells us that the more we give the less we will have, by definition. But the teaching of God – and indeed our human experience too – shows us that when we give, we receive more. When we love, we do not have less love as a result but more.

We celebrate, this (and every) Christmas the source of all life and love, the One who comes to give each of us a new start, the One who invites us both to receive and to share this love, Jesus Christ.  


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