|The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP.|
DIOCESE OF PARRAMATTA RELEASE: Messages from the Bishop
A Christmas Message from Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta , December 2011
There were presents at the first Christmas. Angels brought songs. Shepherds brought lambs. Wise men brought gold for a baby who would be King, frankincense for a child who would be Priest, and myrrh for One who would die to save the world.
There were presents at the first Christmas and there will be this Christmas. Amidst the economic gloom our businesses hope for some bounce from all the present buying and giving. But we must ask ourselves: how much more stuff do we really need? How many things do we have from last Christmas that we have not touched since? How many other gadgets, clothes, DVDs, or whatever have we accumulated in the meantime, or over the years, that we never even advert to?
Sometimes we keep them for sentimental reasons even if they are not useful. Or because we think we might use them yet. But I wonder how much we are trapped in a culture of accumulating stuff for its own sake, stuff that costs money we could be putting to better uses, stuff we could be sharing with other people instead of hoarding at home...
Recently I heard a woman saying she spent a lot on money on clothes she did not need or even like so she could wear them to impress people she didn’t know and who didn’t notice.
Reflecting on that made her ask all sorts of questions about the sustainability of the consumer economy, the impacts on the natural environment and on the social environment, on people. Behind those were even deeper questions about what we value – in the world, in others, in ourselves.
Our global financial uncertainty invites such questions. Christmas invites such questions.
There were presents at the first Christmas, but there was also the grinding poverty of a young couple living rough and giving birth in a stable. There was the insecurity of a young family having to flee as refugees from the violence around them. There was a cosmic hymn of glory to God in the highest and a cosmic plea for peace and goodwill on earth.
As we attend church services this Christmas, or listen to carols, or say grace to give thanks for all we have received; as we notice the different feel in the streets, the decorations, the frenzied shopping, the Christmas drinks, the holiday heat and roads; as we look at our families across the Christmas dinner table and open our presents with them, we might ask ourselves: don’t people matter so much more than things? What do I want for my loved ones? What do I do for them? What really makes me happy?
Christ the Lord is born to us at Christmas. God comes to fill our world with hope. A baby worthy of all gifts wants nothing more than our friendship. May God bless you and all your loved ones this Christmas and in the New Year of grace 2012.