Bishop of Norwich on what present he’s giving the Queen

PUBLISHED: 09:49 16 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:49 16 December 2019

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher (photo: Denise Bradley)

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher (photo: Denise Bradley)

Archant

Find out what the Queen’s getting for Christmas as the Rt Rev Graham Usher answers our questions about his first festive season as Bishop of Norwich

What is your favourite part of Christmas?

For the last five years I've spent Christmas in prison. I must add that I was leading services!

As a parish priest I loved going to take some very ill people communion at home after the main Christmas morning service and then calling in at the lunch put on for those on their own.

I guess I love spending part of Christmas with the vulnerable and those with no one else - but then it's time to be with my family for the rest of the day.

Where was your most memorable Christmas?

It was a Christmas when we lived in Northumberland and snow lay heavily on the ground. After church, we went sledging with our young children.

It was a gloriously happy day.

What would you like for Christmas - for yourself, your diocese and the world?

I always say I want happy children! But I would also love to see churches across Norfolk full of people. Take a look at achurchnearyou.com to see what's going on.

And for the world this year, what about a gentler, kinder, listening in our political discourse that seeks to bring people together rather than divide them?

When does Christmas start for you?

It starts at a Christmas Eve carol service when a single voice sings the first line of Once in Royal David's City. Awesome! I'm transported back to peer into the stall in Bethlehem, in a mucky stable round the back of an inn, where God chose to come and be with us.

Are there any parts of Christmas you dread?

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Listening to the news headlines, especially when they convey human misery or violence on what should be a joyous day.

What is your favourite carol?

I love the calypso carol, See Him Lying on a Bed of Straw, because once I've sung it, I can't get its joyous tune out of my head.

When do you start your Christmas shopping?

A few days before Christmas! Sometimes the sales have already begun.

And when do you finish?

Umm… Rachel, my wife, tends to rescue me.

Who cooks on the day?

Rachel gets the dinner cooked because for every year of our married life I've been out working. She makes a fantastic red cabbage dish (I think it's a Delia recipe).

How are you feeling about spending part of the festive season with the royal family?

It's going to be a huge privilege and I've got my Christmas present ready for The Queen - don't tell her but it's a jar of my bees' honey.

What is the real meaning of Christmas?

That God's love shines into all parts of the world, into your life and my life, through the gift of Jesus who pitches his tent with us, for us, and alongside us. That love shines out, inviting us to draw near, and energises the incredible work that our church communities do in serving their communities.

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