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Christmas Message, 2020 (St Mary’s, Suffolk)
December 24, 2020
Wishing you a Merry and Blessed Christmas, and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year. May the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ bring peace and joy to your hearts.
Our normal life and plans for the Year 2020 were sadly disrupted around the first quarter of the year by COVID 19. What the world continues to suffer because of the dreadful virus leaves much to be desired. The pandemic has been a terrible shock and distraction to all nations and peoples of the world.
Distractions, however, should not be considered as totally negative. From the moment we find ourselves in the world, we experience one distraction after another. Life seems to be a series of distractions that often turn out to be life-experiences that can lead to strength and growth. We have seen this in the annals of humankind.
We also graphically see it in nature. Despite the devastation our environment endures through natural disasters from severe storms, earthquakes, and fires, it rejuvenates itself and grows stronger.
Let us call to mind the beautiful story of Christmas and its distractions. It is a story of unforeseen assault on the normal life and plans of its protagonists, Mary and Joseph.
The Archangel Gabriel’s greetings and message to Mary deeply disturbed her and so the Archangel had to do a lot of explanations. Mary humbly accepted the request from God but that did not take away distractions from her normal and peaceful life. Rather, things became complicated for her and Joseph “who always did what was right” (Matthew 1:19).
Joseph magnanimously accepted God’s will at the expense of his own planned and peaceful life. We might not think of the situation of Mary and Joseph as a pandemic, but it really was. Similarly, we face the assault and challenges of this pandemic, but with the grace of the “Son of God” to be born at Christmas we will certainly overcome them and grow stronger and happier in life.
At Christmas, we must pay particular attention to the well-decorated Christmas crib which must not escape our eyes. I have always loved the way our Liturgy Committee sets it up, putting in a lot of work. We thank them sincerely.
The Christmas crib, among other things, reminds us that the shepherds, representing the poor and the lowly, were the first to see and accept Jesus at His birth. Their invitation to the Nativity scene, guarded by the “Bethlehem Star,” is a demonstration of God’s love for everyone and His invitation to bring all peoples to His Son.
At Christmas, God gives His greatest gift, Jesus Christ, to the world. As we celebrate God’s gift to us, we are expected to be gift to one another especially the poor and marginalized. At this time, the Church feeds the poor and vulnerable, and I commend all those who participated in bringing smiles to the faces of the poor especially during this time of COVID 19, who are severely imparted by the pandemic.
I thank God for his continuous mercies and protection for all of you, members of our wonderful Parish family. I thank our indefatigable staff and voluntaries who brave the storms and avail themselves to the needs of the parish in the course of this difficult time.
You will be remembered in my prayers during this wonderful season of Christmas. I humbly ask that you also remember me in your prayers.
May God grant us good health, happiness, and peace this Christmas and the New Year.
With every good wish,
Fr Emmanuel Tabi Mensah