Bishop of Sheffield delivers first Christmas Day sermon

25th December 2017

In the 10.30am service at Sheffield Cathedral, the Rt Revd Pete Wilcox gave his first sermon on Christmas Day as the Bishop of Sheffield.

He began by talking about the Christmas story, and in particular the meaning of the manger that Jesus spent his first night on Earth in.

Firstly, he said: "Think how hesitantly, how reluctantly any parent would lay a new born baby in a manger, from which animals have been eating.  Think of the germs!  Can't you just see Joseph shaking his head as he remembers the crib he's so lovingly built in Nazareth, and saying to himself, 'Sorry, son, it wasn't supposed to be like this'. "

He continued:

"This morning, this is part of the meaning of that manger.  At the mid-point of the Christmas story, it stands for all those times in our lives, when we find ourselves shaking our heads in regret and disappointment, maybe even in anger, and saying in a wistful sort of way: 'It wasn't supposed to be like this'."

The Bishop then continued to say thankfully this was "just the half way point in the story".

He told the gathered congregation that, for the shepherds, the manger held a very different meaning:

"In the first place, the manger is given to the shepherds as a sign that the message of the angel is true.  The shepherds will know that this baby isn't just any baby, but is truly the Saviour when they see him wrapped in rags and lying in an animal's feeding trough."

The manger suggests the sort of ministry Jesus would grow up to deliver "a ministry lived out among the poor not the rich; a ministry to the margins of society not the mainstream; a ministry to the despised, not the respectable.  And when he died, this Saviour died the sort of death the manger suggested: not in comfort, but in pain; not in glory, but in shame; not in triumph, but apparently in defeat."

The Bishop concluded:

"The manger is a sign not just that Jesus really will be the Saviour of the world, but of the sort of Saviour Jesus will be: a Saviour who takes precisely the bits of our lives which don't work out as we hope, and heals them."

The full Sermon is attached.

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