We reported Bishop Ken Good’s Christmas message on donegaldaily.com earlier this week. However here is his message in full:
When my car became stranded on a hill in the snow last week, a generous soul came to my rescue in his 4 x 4. As we attached the tow-rope to my car, he mused openly about his disillusionment with what he perceives to be an increasingly selfish approach to life these days. With sadness in his voice he expressed a concern that, through the recent years of prosperity, people seem more self-absorbed than was the case in our less prosperous past; he expressed the view that most people are now less likely than previously to inconvenience ourselves in order to help our neighbour. He believes we have become less generous and less compassionate towards those in need. And my Good Samaritan was quite clearly distressed and disillusioned by this troubling change.
Since our conversation in the snow, I have been reflecting on what he said. Overall, I’m not quite convinced that he is right. Generalisations are somewhat risky. It may be that he has recently had some particularly bad experiences at the hands of others – but then, by contrast, he enabled me to have such a positive experience of the behaviour of others, precisely because of the generous way in which he came to my rescue.
We celebrate at Christmas the incarnation of God who is love; Jesus Christ who showed in practical daily living what the compassionate love of God looks like. As we prepare to celebrate his coming, I am aware of two personal challenges this Christmas.
The first is to notice and express thanks to those I meet and see who are indeed generous, thoughtful and compassionate towards others, including strangers. And I am noticing them, particularly in these arctic weather conditions. In times when financial pressures are greater, when the weather is colder and when the needs of families and individuals are more keenly felt, I feel confident that there is even greater evidence than usual of people’s willingness to show good-neighbourliness, generosity and self-giving.
The second challenge is to encourage myself and others this Christmas to take more initiatives which are loving, generous and caring. We hear these days of ‘Acts of Random Kindness’ – I quite like the term and the idea – and I am recommending that we all mirror, in some thoughtful and large-hearted way, the indiscriminate and generous love of God. God’s self-giving in Bethlehem was intentional, purposeful and premeditated. His rescue mission was timely, loving and just what this world needed.
God’s remarkable self-giving that first Christmas was the most remarkable and costly example of generosity there has ever been, and his initiative in generous giving is an inspiration to us all. In wishing you a Happy Christmas, I am wishing also that we may all be inspired to share and to give with generous hearts.