Christmas message from the Bishop of Chichester

Dr Martin Warner. C121619-1
Dr Martin Warner. C121619-1

AS Christmas approaches, the Bishop of Chichester has released a festive message.

Here, Dr Martin Warner sends Christmas wishes to the Observer readers:

“Christmas is a great time for all trades and professions, except perhaps one: the poor old health and safety officer.

“Dangers lurk everywhere.

“Too much to eat and drink, untested electrical appliances rampant, and the human dangers of mistaking your neighbour’s brother in law for her father in law, and getting into a heated discussion about sex, religion and politics when all you wanted to do say how much you value the good old CofE – and especially Chichester Cathedral – at this time of year.

“But a perception of the risks of health and safety associated with this festival is not new.

“In the Medieval Mystery Plays 700 years ago, Joseph was the comedy turn: a cross between Victor Meldrew and the health and safety officer.

“He grumbled about the misses: ‘She wants cherries; where on earth am I going to get cherries at this time of year and on my salary?’

“He grumbled about the accommodation – it wasn’t safe and it wasn’t cheap.

“And he grumbled about the fact he didn’t really understand how his wife came to be pregnant anyway.

“‘The child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’ is the way an angel explains it to Joseph.

“This remains one of human history’s great statements about God as the divine risk taker.

“And the risks were huge. Infant mortality an obvious starter: slaughter by a Roman or a Jewish tyrant ruler not far behind.

“But the biggest risk of all is that the human race, for whom this act of love is undertaken, would respond with cold and indifferent hearts.

“Love cannot be compelled it can only be invited.

“The birth of Jesus Christ is an invitation to explore the love of God for you and for every human being.”