Diocesan press releases

Bishop John’s Christmas message 2015

‘One Solitary Life’

Bishop John Chrism mass 2015‘One Solitary Life’ is a reflection on the effect the life of Jesus Christ has had on the history of the world and its people. That life, begun two thousand years ago in challenging circumstances, in an ordinary town and among ordinary people, was crowned with a ministry of about three years which changed much of the world as well as the habits and outlook of countless people. It was a life filled with acts of love, calls for justice and an unquenchable concern for the poor, the sick, the oppressed and the hurting. It was a life that reached out to the people on the margins of society who were considered to be too different or too challenging to be allowed in. That life isn’t confined to history. It has a profound, challenging and continuing relevance for today, and it’s that life which the church is meant to live out and commend to others.

The all too-evident problems confronting the world in 2015 are actually not that differentBishop John Christmas 2015 from those facing the world in which that life was lived out. It’s easy to believe that we can’t change things and that our solitary lives can do nothing to alter the world. Not so!  A sea-shore is made up of millions upon millions of single grains of sand; each one apparently insignificant, but each one is still part of the entire landscape. Had anyone the patience to do so, removing each grain one by one would eventually begin to tell. So it is with your solitary life. You can make it tell, however insignificant you may feel yourself to be. Because:

  • every act of love;
  • every act of forgiveness;
  • every welcoming of a stranger;
  • every moment of tolerance;
  • every word of encouragement;
  • every embrace of healing;
  • every word of support for a campaign for justice
will change someone else’s world and thus change the world itself for the better.

Not just at this time of year but always, I hope that you will remember the impact of that one solitary life begun in the little town of Bethlehem. Remember the one who lived that life and the movement of love which he began. Be part of it, and never underestimate the potential that your own one, solitary, life has to change the world. Be strong, be blessed, and be an agent for changing the world.

Bishop John

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three


His friends ran away
One of them denied him

Another betrayed him

He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth


When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend


Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life


Dr James Allan Francis © 1926. (adapted)