Joy to the world, the saviour reigns....
Let Earth receive her king.
These lines from an old Christmas carol reflect the Christian belief that the birth of Jesus affects the story of the whole world, the entire creation. Since Jesus is not just a first century Jew but the son of God the Creator, Christians see his birth as God's coming into the world for the sake of all the world, for all humanity and, indeed, for all created things.
As we approach Christmas 2015, that vision of our really being one world, one human family, is both being built up and taking some serious hits from the great challenges of our time.
On the one hand, at the Paris climate talks it would seem that the nations of the world have for once recognised that we are all in this together and have looked beyond their own narrow interests to the good of the whole planet, our common home.
On the other hand, we are in the midst of a refugee crisis of unprecedented scale. The wars and poverty that have led to this crisis reflect deep divisions in the human family along ethnic, religious, economic and cultural lines. There is no 'one world' view here. Worse, the fears and defensive reactions being caused by this great movement of peoples are leading to the very 'us' and 'them' thinking and action that can only make the situation worse.
The answers to our world problems are not simple. Pope Francis has written, in effect, that we need a new politics, a new economics, a new ecological vision. It is undeniably a large agenda. If we are to move forward at all, there needs to spread through the population of the planet a renewed understanding of our unity, of our connectedness to one another, to the planet, to the whole of created reality, and to the people who have gone before us and the generations that will follow. It is a new human sensibility that the pope speaks of, a more spiritual view of things. In some part, this new sensibility emerged at Paris. It is, however, constantly being set back by the ugliness of our treatment of refugees and the refusal to see beyond immediate national interests that drives our policies and actions in refugee matters.
This Christmas, Christians will again look into the crib and see not just a baby from olden times but, to their eyes, the Saviour of the World. They will see 'God-with-us' and recall the words of our gospel: God so loved the world that he sent his only Son... Reflecting on that should lead us to see ourselves, and all humanity and all of the creation that we inhabit, as deeply and truly bound up together in life and history, all parts of that one 'world' that God so loved, all connected in the human family and the 'world' for whom the Son of God has come.
Bishop Bill Wright will be available for media comment and interviews via phone tomorrow – Tuesday 22nd December from 9.30am – 10.30am. To book time with the Bishop, contact Communications Manager Kate Bennett on 0419 263 901.