Bethlehem had no walls for centuries; why are we building them?
25th December 2017
READ: the whole sermon here
In his Christmas sermon at St Albans Cathedral, the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, will speak about modern political leaders’ predilection for wall-building. He will contrast this with the good news of the Christmas story, in which the birth of Jesus seeks to bring people together, rather than build walls which separate.
In his sermon, entitled ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ the Bishop will speak about the walls dividing people who have lived alongside each other for centuries in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. He will also refer to President Trump’s plans to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. He will acknowledge that there are real political pressures, but will say: “When we feel insecure, building walls seems a good idea. Yet, impressive as they are, the massive walls surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem have done little to prevent bloodshed. Sometimes they have provided temporary protection, but invariably they were breached and the inhabitants attacked” He will argue that walls alone will never ultimately provide the peace and security for which we all long.
Drawing on words from the Prophet Isaiah he will suggest that rather than build walls, we need to “build highways” to enable individuals and communities to come together.
He will conclude: “Lasting peace and prosperity require that we meet people face to face and work with them. We need to create a world in which all people are given respect and dignity.”
He will finish: “Today is a day for attending to the words God once spoke by the angel to the shepherds who bid us, ‘fear not.’ Why? Because Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, that living bridge which unites earth and heaven, people and nations. And when we open ourselves to his transforming grace, we discover the walls of fear and division within us dissolving.”