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Bishop of Lichfield delivers Christmas message

The Bishop of Lichfield has turned to the recent cold snap as the basis for his Christmas message.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill

The Right Revd Jonathan Gledhill looked at the way the transport network has ground to halt, bringing chaos during the festive period – before reminding people that the church was always open.

Read below for the Bishop’s full message:

In the cold winters of 1961 and 1963 we were properly snowed in.  We were unable to use the car for weeks and the milk had to be delivered by Land Rover.  We had to struggle everywhere on foot.  The best thing was the ice-skating.  We borrowed our parents’ old skates and went exploring on the ponds in the farm land near to our home.  Even more exciting were the hockey matches that the schools held on a large lake which froze over for much of the spring term.  So we can’t complain yet that 2010-11 is the worst winter for hundreds of years.  The pools are not frozen solid!

Life is more highly geared now.  Because the airports, the trains and the motorways operate to capacity it only takes a small disruption for the whole system to fail.  So last weekend thousands of flights were cancelled and tens of thousands of people stranded.  Particularly shocking was the experience of passengers that their travel agents and their airline ticket staff did not operate at weekends so there was no one available to advise them how to re-book and if they should go home or not.  No provision was made for people to bed down in the concourses and for many there was no information.

On the motorways people were stranded overnight and journeys of one hour became journeys of ten hours.  It was the same on the trains.  Of course the schools had to close early and provisions in shops started to run short.

But if the airports were not open for business, if the trains frozen in their sidings, if the boilers burst in schools, if the motorways closed and the shops hardly open – never mind.  The churches are all still open for all who want a real Christmas!

When we say, “What did God do when our world froze?”  God points at the baby in the manger and replies, “Look, I did this.”

It is wonderful to see the crowds press into church for carol services.  They come in harassed and tired but soon everyone is listening to the entrancing words of the carols and the Bible readings and you see a tear or two on people’s cheeks:

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold.”

Everywhere else may be closing down but God does not close down and his love reaches the darkest corners of our world.

May Christ the Saviour bless us all this Christmas.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.