Christmas Message from the Right Rev’d Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor

Bishop of Bangor, Andrew John

The genie is out of the bottle it would appear: The Lord’s Prayer is considered likely to offend and get in the way of good popcorn and ‘The Force Awakens’.

The decision to ban the Church of England’s advert for the prayer in some cinemas has raised all sorts of eyebrows and temperatures too.

We may wonder if this is another piece of political correctness gone mad or whether the cinemas had a point. Strangely I have some sympathy with them.

Not because I think this is Christianity under the radar or a subtle attempt to convert us all without our knowing it but because when you read the Lord’s Prayer – ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, you may surprise yourself.

Asking God to overthrow tyranny, not just Daesh or Isis, sounds subversive and dangerous. But this is what it actually means to pray that prayer.

At Christmas our thoughts inevitably turn to Bethlehem and a child in a manger, helpless and vulnerable. Born into a world where the powerful wielded total power and mercilessly crushed rebellion, it doesn’t sound like the obvious way to usher in a reign of peace and overthrow the strong.

Yet this is the point. God’s way of moving people, communities and the world to peace is not through a gun or suicide bomber but through the power of love.

One of the Gospel writers put it like this: ‘God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again’ (John 3:16, The Message).

It’s this power to love in the face of a world that doesn’t always act wisely, justly yet alone lovingly which moves me this Christmas. A Kingdom where this kind of love wins people to better lives sounds worth consideration. I hope and pray it moves you too.

Have a blessed and happy Christmas.

+Andrew, Bangor