2023 Christmas Message

   - Bishop Michael

   - God is with us

In the presentation, Bishop Michael reflects on the significance of the name Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us,' a theme that is particularly poignant during Christmas. He highlights that this name embodies the deep connection between God and humanity through Jesus Christ, who shares in our human experience. He speaks about God's presence in various aspects of our lives, including our efforts to be virtuous, our failures, our joys, and our struggles.

The Bishop then addresses the heavy-heartedness of the world, especially in light of violence in the Holy Land, the birthplace of Jesus. He specifically mentions the suffering of innocent people affected by the violence, including the victims of a Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, and the subsequent impact on both Israelis and Palestinians. He calls for empathy and support for all who suffer in these tragic circumstances, regardless of their ethnicity or nationality, reflecting on Jesus's Jewish heritage and his message of inclusion and unity.

Bishop Michael's message is a call for hope, peace, and joy in the knowledge that God is with us in every moment of life. He extends a Christmas blessing, hoping that the contemplation of Christ this season will bring solace and happiness, knowing that God's presence is a constant through all of life's experiences.

Questions for further discussion and reflection
  1. How can the understanding of Jesus as Emmanuel — God with us — influence our response to the struggles and sufferings of people in our local communities and around the world?
  2. In light of Bishop Michael's message, what practical steps can we take during the Christmas season and beyond to embody the inclusive love that Jesus demonstrated, especially towards those from different ethnic and religious backgrounds?
  3. Considering Bishop Michael's’s reflection on God's presence in both our successes and failures, how can we cultivate a more consistent awareness of God's accompaniment in our daily lives, and how might this awareness change our actions and attitudes towards others?
Closing prayer

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, as we gather in reflection and celebration, we acknowledge Your holy name, Emmanuel, reminding us of Your ever-present love and grace in our lives. In this sacred season of Christmas, we cherish the profound truth that You, O God, are with us. Through Jesus Christ, You have intimately shared in our human experience, embracing our virtues and our shortcomings, our joys, and our sorrows.

Lord, we lift up our hearts and prayers for the world, especially for the places shrouded in conflict and sorrow, like the Holy Land. We remember the innocent lives affected by violence, including those harmed in the tragic events of October 7. We pray for peace and healing for all, Israelis and Palestinians alike, touched by such pain and loss.

In the spirit of Jesus's own Jewish heritage and His message of inclusion and unity, we ask for empathy, understanding, and support for every person suffering, regardless of their ethnicity or nationality. May our hearts be open to all who endure hardship and strife.

Almighty God, in this time of celebration, Bishop Michael has called us to embrace hope, peace, and joy, knowing that You are with us in every moment of life. May the contemplation of Christ this Christmas season bring us solace and happiness, strengthening our faith in Your constant presence through all the experiences life brings.

Bless us, Lord, and guide us in Your path of love and understanding. Help us to be bearers of Your peace in this world. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.


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24 December 2023

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Bishop Michael Kennedy

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