Christmas Message from the Archbishop of the West Indies

On this wonderful Christmas Day, we  are led to the story in the Gospels of St Matthew and St Luke, where we read of the birth of a baby in some very trying circumstances.

The church has taught over the years that the story is about far more than the survival of a baby born in some very threatening conditions. Its primary message is about God taking control of the most difficult and threatening conditions of life and transforming them into experiences of salvation.

The Christmas story teaches us that God’s work of salvation in the ministry of Jesus began in some difficult, appalling conditions. In spite of these conditions, God remained in control, ensuring that his initiative of salvation through the birth of Jesus was guided through this difficult phase to its ultimate conclusion.

The message of Christmas is a message about the transforming power of God. It teaches us that there can be hope beyond the doubts and fears of Joseph, beyond the abuse of power as portrayed by Herod and beyond the limited opportunities for development, progress and protection as reflected in the absence of room in the inn.

There can be hope when, like the shepherds, we are in darkness longing for a spark of light that can lead us to greater experiences of God’s goodness.

As we reflect on our lives, on our country and on the world, we realise how relevant the message of Christmas is for us today. The hope of conquering the hurdles of life can help us to deal with the ones we face. We face them at the personal and the national level, convinced that with vision and courage, guided by the grace of God, we can conquer them.

Let us embrace this powerful message of Christmas, convinced that the hurdles of life that can create setbacks need not be the final say on any matter. We believe that God always has the final word as is the case in the birth of Jesus.

Guided by this conviction we reach out to share it. We do so by being a spark of hope for those whose lives seem to be overwhelmed by negative conditions. We assure them of God’s love, His presence, His power and His saving grace. We become experiences of all these for them.

Christmas still draws out of us the best side of humanity. The sharing, the expressions of love and compassion that are present in abundance at Christmas are experiences of the love of God that were at their very best in the life and ministry of Jesus.

May this good and generous side of humanity be alive and active in each of us this Christmas. Let us make that extra effort to ensure that it is also present during the coming year.

The birth of our Lord is not an event that stands alone but one that is connected to His entire life and to His ministry. He never lost an opportunity to help someone to experience the love of God. Let us on this Christmas Day commit ourselves to do the same today and for the rest of our lives.

May God grant you a blessed Christmas and may His love guide you through the coming year.

The Most Reverend John Holder
Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Barbados