A Christmas Message from Archbishops Winston Halapua and Philip Richardson of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
And so we have come to another Christmas, and we marvel again at the birth of the Christ child proclaiming God’s love for us and for the whole of creation.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:8 and 4:16b)
No force is more powerful, nor more fragile.
We are made in the image of God and, being Love, God sent Christ to reveal to us what true Love looks like. We can choose to live our lives as a response to this Love – and towards each other and towards the creation.
What does Jesus show us? That love lives humbly and simply, treating others with kindness and forbearance. Love strives for the good of the other, and serves without bias, without playing favourites. Love does not force another to love back. It is not manipulative or self-absorbed.
Love treats the creation in such a way that all have access to its bounty, and that a richer inheritance, a more abundant resource, is passed to those who come after us.
There is much that challenges and threatens to neutralise this most powerful force. The year has been full of violence, grief, tragedy, hatred and threat.
But Love does not let up, and it keeps loving in spite of rejection and ridicule. Persevering even in the face of hatred and violence.
That’s how we see things, anyhow.
And the curious thing is that some of our best artists, and our finest scientists and mathematicians, have come to similar conclusions.
Many of you will have seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, which is a retelling of the story of John Nash, who suffered from schizophrenia – but who went on to receive the Nobel Prize for his breakthrough discoveries in mathematics.
At the end of the film, there’s a scene in which Nash, in a packed Stockholm auditorium, is giving his Nobel acceptance speech – and he then refocuses his remarks to his wife, Alicia:
“I’ve always believed in numbers, in equations, in logic and reason,” he tells his audience.
“But after a lifetime of such pursuits: I ask ‘What truly is logic? Who decides reason?’
“My quest has taken me to the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back.
“(And) I have made the most important discovery of my career – the most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found.”
He then looks at and speaks directly to Alicia:
“I am only here tonight because of you.
“You are the only reason I am.
“You are all my reasons.
So, this Christmas we give thanks, again, for the “mysterious equations of love” – this strange and beautiful logic whereby the Creator of the Universe sees fit to send Jesus to be born in a manger in Bethlehem. . .
So that light inextinguishable, and hope eternal, should come into our world.
May God richly bless you, your families and all those nearest and dearest to you this Christmas.
Archbishop Philip Richardson
Archbishop Winston Halapua