Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali's Christmas Message
"And you will name him Jesus"
Christmas is always a time for parties and celebrations, and for catching-up with family and friends. This year, with the Millennium, we are also celebrating the 2000th anniversary of Jesus' birth - a birth which began when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary.
The message the angel gave to Mary was a personal one. She heard the words, "… you will conceive in your womb and bear a son". The message of the Christian gospel today is still first and foremost a personal message to each one of us.
The angel's message to Mary went on, "… and you will name him Jesus." The point is that the message to Mary - and to us - is about a 'who' and not simply about a 'what' , a 'when' or a 'where'. In Jesus, the light of the world, God shows his love for us by coming as a person. Jesus shows us what God is like in the way that he teaches and heals, lives, dies and lives again. In other words, Jesus is not just a messenger: he is himself the 'Message'.
Mary's life was never the same again after she responded to the angel's personal message to her. In the same way, because God's message is personal and about a person, then our response to God must also be personal. No-one can say 'Yes' to God for us. And when we do say 'Yes', then we must be prepared, like Mary, to see our lives change forever.
My prayer this Christmas and for the Millennium is that each one of us may take time to listen out for God's personal message to us. Beyond that, I pray that each one of us will respond to that message … in person.
With all my best wishes and blessings for Christmas, the New Year and the New Millennium,
Bishop of Rochester
The Diocese of Rochester Millennium Prayer
Lord God, as we enter this new millennium,
we thank you for the creation of the world,
and for the birth of your Son, our Saviour.
Help us to put the past behind us
And to look forward to a new start with you.
Through your Holy Spirit,
we commit ourselves
to work for justice, love and peace on earth,
and to be good stewards of your creation.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The National Millennium Resolution
Let there be
respect for the earth,
peace for its people,
love in our lives,
delight in the good,
forgiveness for past wrongs,
and, from now on,
a new start.