Bishop of Bangor’s 2017 Christmas message

Right Rev'd Andy John

It’s become something of a competition to win the accolade of ‘best advert’ at Christmas.

Yet again, John Lewis made the running with #MozTheMonster and delivered the line ‘For gifts that brighten their world’ to press home the point. I defy anyone to watch it without a smile on their face. 

Right Rev’d Andy John
However, for me the winner has to be a small business from a town in mid-Wales: Hafod Hardware of Rhayader, Powys and their advert ‘Delivering magic this Christmas’.
The video tracks the efforts to deliver presents before the big day and the consequent exhaustion felt by the motorcycle rider. At the end of the day he falls into deepest slumber waking to find someone has wrapped his own gifts. His Christmas really begins as his baby crawls into view sharing the joy and excitement of the moment. 
A small and quiet Rhayader shop taking the award looks like another instance of the small and local trouncing mega businesses. 
It’s worth noting that when Jesus was born, that too happened in one of the quieter villages in Palestine. The busyness of a world caught up with its empires and Caesars had no time for the sleepy backwater of Bethlehem. What happened was invisible to many and captured the attention of only a few – and those who turned up weren’t what we might call the ‘crème de la crème’ – drovers of sheep and the kind of folk you wouldn’t normally invite to the event of the century. 
This is, of course, the point. When God shows up you shouldn’t expect to look in kings’ palaces and among the great and the good. That’s not God’s way. You need to look in the unexpected places and among the marginalised because somehow God always shows up there. When we find God like this, angels still sing their song. 
But there’s another reason why, for me, the Hafod advert takes the prize: their strapline is the real clincher. And I think it can serve as a reminder of what the birth of Christ means today as it did then: ‘Delivering magic this Christmas’. I pray you might discover something of that magic in your own celebrations. 
May I wish you all a very merry Christmas.
+Andrew Bangor