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“Only love can do that”

Darkness cannot drive out darkness. On behalf of the three Primates, Archbishop Philip Richardson offers a reflection for Christmas 2016.

Archbishop Philip Richardson   |  22 Dec 2016

Love is the most powerful force in the world.

Christmas shouts this great truth out: It’s hard to stifle Good News like that!

When Christians pause to celebrate the birth of Jesus, they celebrate the love of God breaking into our world in a new and unique way – and the power of that love to transform our world.

It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? That God’s love is revealed in this utterly vulnerable babe? Whose parents then had to bundle up so they could flee a murderous tyrant, and live as refugees in a foreign land?

It’s a love story. And billions of people around the world today and down the ages have been captured by this love story, and by the reality of God that lies within it.

The birth of the Christ-child tells us that the love of God is available for all people. In every place, at any time.

It tells us that every person is beloved of God. Sacred – and worthy of our love and respect.

In the face of so much negativity over these past months – months where the rhetoric of hatred and ridicule and fear mongering has nearly swamped us – we might recall the words Martin Luther King spoke just before he was assassinated:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

As we are bombarded by images of famine, drought, persecution and war, as millions are forced to flee their homelands, we see the vulnerability of the refugee Christ-child perhaps more plainly than we ever have seen before.

The birth of this baby in a stable, made available through the generosity of strangers, calls us to choose a different way:

To choose to say that everyone is our neighbour.

To choose to reach out across differences and seek dialogue, build relationships, and drive out mistrust and fear.

To choose to say that there is no place for hatred, ridicule or bullying.

To choose to uphold the dignity and value of every human life.

Scripture tells us that where there is selfless, sacrificial 'other-centred' love - God is present.

When we choose the way of love, we say 'yes' to the way of the Christ-child and we say 'yes' to life - life in all its fullness.

Love is the most powerful force in the world.

May the joy, peace, and hope of the baby born in Nazareth be yours this Christmas.

Archbishop Philip Richardson, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand dioceses.

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