Bishop Martin's Christmas Message
Suffolk's Bishop Martin says that commercial adverts by retailers can help us realise the true meaning of giving at Christmas.
In his Christmas message the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said that he had been moved by the love you neighbour theme of the Christmas 2015 TK Maxx TV advertisement that has been appearing in recent weeks.
The campaign by the retailer advocates festive gift-giving for the neighbours you know, and the ones you don’t.
Although Bishop Martin may not necessarily be shopping with the company, he believes the advert sends as important seasonal message.
Bishop Martin said: “This particular commercial reminds us that at Christmas we are all drawn into relationship with each other, even people we may not know.
“Acts of kindness to strangers are really important as we give our time, or presents, to help others. With random acts of kindness to those who are not able to give in return, the real gift is in giving.
“We see this across Suffolk where our school children have been filling shoe boxes with presents for refugee families.
“We see it when our Ipswich town centre where numerous volunteers open churches during the winter as night shelters for those homeless on the bitterly cold streets and help them not only with shelter, but to find long-term homes again.
“When people in our county respond to people in need from around the world or support foodbanks run for those struggling locally, or reach out to include those living alone in our Christmas celebrations, we help those we don’t know, and yet we find that we are the ones who receive.
“When we celebrate the birth of Jesus we celebrate God’s gift of life and love for everyone. When we give to those we do not know – whether those near us whom we see every day, or those far away whose need we hear of on the news – we are wonderfully expressing our shared humanity, sealed for ever in the manger in Bethlehem.
“Surprise someone you don’t know with a gift this Christmas.
Picture above: Bishop Martin at Stowmarket's Christmas tree festival at the town centre church of St Peter and St Mary, a festival now in its 11th year and which attracted 30,000 visitors last year.
(The views expressed here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate. We welcome your thoughts upon the ideas expressed here, posted as comments below)