Bishop Peter's Christmas Message
What is the purpose of a human life? What is the purpose of any human life? What is the purpose of life itself?
I was reminded recently of a conversation, into which I would like us eavesdrop. The participants are three philosophers: an Indian, an Egyptian, and a Greek, who come together in the desert, each bringing the wisdom and insights of their classical and ancient traditions. For the person from the East, God is essentially a multiple transcendent entity, and ultimately unknowable; for the Egyptian, there are also many gods, but they are present in the world and directing it; for the Greek, wisdom resides in the soul. How, they ask, can these things be reconciled? What might it look like to have a God who is universal? How could that happen? Only, they conclude, by God becoming human.
That conversation is the meeting of the Magi, which forms the opening of the novel Ben Hur, written by Lew Wallace in 1880. But you may be more familiar with the film!
With these thoughts in mind, the Magi see the star and go to Jerusalem to find out more. In Jerusalem, they glimpse Mary, pregnant, and Joseph, on their way through from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
The Magi enquire of the Christ, and they travel the short distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
They visit the Christ, and they see God become human.
They pay homage to the Christ, for their earthly wealth and splendour is as nothing compared to the truth that they have now encountered.
St Matthew tells us that, being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they travel home ‘by another road’, ‘by another way’. And the truth is: How could it not be so, after what they had seen? After this, nothing could be the same again.
What, for you, is ‘the other road’, the better way? Will you allow the story of God to convert and transform your life to a better way – and what might that look like, for you, and for the world in which you live? How might it shape the purpose of your life? As thinking human beings, we are called to ponder these things – and as you do so, may God give you His blessing, at Christmas and always.
Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa…