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Christmas Message

A Christmas message from The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter.

Many of us approach Christmas this year with heavy hearts.  For 2023 has been a hard year for our country and for the world.  Too many of our public services are struggling, and we watch our television screens with bewilderment and despair at the waging of war – and to what end?  Storm Pia is brewing, confronting us yet again with the reality of climate change.  AI has now raised its head above the security parapet, and I am interested to note that clergy are amongst the most exposed to the risk of being superseded by chatbots.  Undoubtedly these feel like dark days for many of us.

So praise God for Christmas and the birth of Christ.  For the baby of Bethlehem promises both hope and peace. As St John writes of him in his Gospel: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness.”

What Christmas does is to offer us a fresh start: a possible turning point.  For as we reflect on God breaking into his world, pointing to a new way, the way of love and service and sacrifice, we recognise that if we would but start to embrace that way, to make it our way, to live it out day by day, then our world would experience a new dawn, hope would begin to conquer despair, and light would extinguish the darkness.  

We human beings have the mighty responsibility of caring for one another and for our world, but Jesus came to show us what that care looks like in practice.  As we celebrate his birth, let us recommit ourselves to walking his way, living his life, and being Good News for our world in 2024.

On behalf of all of us at Exeter Cathedral, may I wish you a Happy Christmas, and a joyful, peaceful and exciting New Year.