Christmas Message From Bishop Nicholas Dill

December 24, 2018

Bishop Nicholas Dill Bermuda December 2018[Christmas message from Bishop Nicholas Dill]

On Christmas Eve in 1914, in the cold and muddy trenches of northern France a strange sound was heard. Not the sound of shelling and rifle fire – but men’s voices singing in German ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’.

The tune was familiar and from the allied side came the echo in English ‘Silent night, holy night… all is calm all is bright.’ For a moment, it was as if time stood still and our common humanity and, at that time, shared faith united enemies in a chorus of song. The peace was short-lived but is remembered.

This Christmas Eve marks the 200th anniversary of that carol. It paints a wonderful picture of peace and calm in the presence of the baby Jesus, Lord at his birth, of that moment when heaven and earth joined in wonder at the God of all creation stepping into time and space as one of us.

We live in a time of virtual reality, virtual currency… virtual everything. And sometimes the pictures we receive of Christmas seem just that -virtual – not really real. After all, the peace of which angels first sang has never been our experience in human history. We have moments of peace – but short-lived.

There are no special stars in the skies – only drones that prevent families from flying to see loved ones. In Bermuda – Christmas is a wonderful time for many – but for some it is an annual reminder of all that is wrong – whilst everyone else is buying presents and celebrating – there is a significant number who are reliant on the generosity of others for basic food, electricity and water. In families there is often the spectre of having to spend time with estranged relatives, or with the tangible realization that loved ones are missing.

But the word ‘incarnation’ – which is applied to Jesus- means literally becoming flesh and blood. Behind all the virtual images of Christmas, God really did become one of us. Born under a banner of shame, in an occupied country, in the terrible conditions of an animal stable because there was no room anywhere else. Soon thereafter – his parents fled with him to avoid the machinations of a megalomaniac ruler as a refugee.

Juxtapose that picture of harsh reality with the song of the angels, the wonder of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men with their gifts – and you have a picture of a God who has come to us, who understands us, who is with us – but whose mission was to lift us, to save us, to forgive us and to transform us. He gives us hope that our troubles are not the final word. He gives us the challenge to incarnate his love to others by our presence and presents.

I pray this Christmas that you will have moments of peace – wherever you are. And when it is all over, that we don’t just return to the fray as if nothing has happened as they did in the trenches after Christmas in 1914 – but that we seek to bring God’s love, peace and blessing to others from our homes to the House on the hill, in our communities and schools, on our roads and with our neighbours.

But, also because we are not able to do this on our own – that we may come to ‘loves pure light’ – and invite God’s light to shine in our hearts. On behalf of the Anglican Church of Bermuda and my family I pray that God may truly bless each one of you this Christmas season and into the New Year and beyond.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Infidelguy says:

    Don’t you just love it when Christians try and put a positive spin on how caring and loving their god is? even during a time when humans are slaughtering each other by the millions?

    World War I (1914 – 1918) was a time of great human carnage. There where more than 16 million people killed and if you count civilians, it was surely many more. Bishop Nicholas, if this god of yours were as powerful and compassionate as you claim, it would have been a very simple matter for he or she, to step in and prevent such great suffering and carnage. But I guess he was too busy in the trenches giving singing lessons.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people celebrating Christmas, but I get sick of the myth making around this time of the year about how god supposedly cares so much about humanity. Where was this god when a nine year-old was brutally raped by a religious cleric, or when a Catholic Priest was getting away with raping young boys over a period of 17 years? I’ll tell you where he was, nowhere! Because he’s a myth, a figment of the imitation created by men to control other men!

    Human kind are the only beings that can truly bring the kind of peace and love that most of us seek!

    • TheBermudaMan says:

      It doesn’t work that way, and you know it. In order to completely circumvent ALL the suffering ever committed throughout human history (not just WWI, but WW2, the reign of King Leopold, etc.) God would have to remove our capacity for free will from each and every one of our brains – in which case, you’d be criticizing God as a meddling tyrant who constantly harasses the human race.

      And since we’re in the business of digging up dirt, let’s not forget the horrors visited upon humanity by religion-free individuals such as Joseph Stalin, or the Marquis de Sade, or Unit 731. Admittedly pedophiles have been exploiting the Catholic Church’s hierarchy for years, but please don’t act as if Christianity is some kind of diabolical system designed to control and oppress human beings 1984-style. Visit Moscow sometime to see what the lasting effects of an atheistic regime can do to basic human civility.

  2. Positive Pessimist says:

    That was a really nice fairy tale there. Christmas is full of paganism and I’m sure the clergy are taught that in theology school so why do they propagate these myths???

    Also, no disrespect to the bishop but how is it 200 years since 1914? I think what’s meant was that it was 200 years since it was first sung, back in 1818.