26 October 2009

Wear a cross for Christmas?

Jonathan Gledhill, the bishop of Lichfield, must have been surprised to discover that his latest pastoral letter was in the national news over the weekend. According to the BBC, for example, he had created a stir by calling upon Christians to wear crosses for Christmas.

Like so much reporting about religion, this turned out to be a misleading half-truth. In fact, what he said was:
Sometimes I think it wouldn’t be a bad thing if in December we all wore a fish badge or cross necklace and sent out a loud message that Christians aren’t going to disappear quietly from the market place or put away our crib figures in a hurry

But the real point of his letter was:
What I have discovered afresh this month is that the mark of a real Christian community is not so much the lapel badges and crosses we wear as the spontaneous, generous and practical love we show to the world. Christians should not be intimidated into putting away their neck crosses or lapel badges, but in the end these are not the badges that matter. The mark that matters is far more challenging.

I shall certainly continue to wear my cross – and not just for Christmas, since it is a constant reminder to me of my commitment to Christ.

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