Bishop of Norwich gives Christmas message
God places his trust in very ordinary people to deliver the Christmas message writes the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.
What does a billion pounds look like? It's such a vast sum of money I can't get my head round it. In New York Bernard Madoff lost $50 billion of other people's money when he confessed to running the biggest scam of all time. It's mind boggling. You don't have to comprehend the figure to know that many thousands of people will be affected.
The odd thing is that the reason Bernard Madoff kept his scam going so long is that people had confidence in him. He was respectable. He'd been around a long time. He'd served as chairman of Nasdaq, the high technology stock market. He commuted to work in a helicopter and had an elegant life style. He was seventy years old, not some upwardly mobile barrow boy.
The awful truth is that even sophisticated financiers are taken in by respectability. Because he looked the part everyone thought Bernard Madoff was the real thing.
I've met two other people this year who deal in billions of dollars. They are both bishops. In Zimbabwe. It takes several billion Zimbabwean dollars to buy a loaf of bread. If you can find a loaf of bread in the shops, that is. They deal in billions because there's no confidence in their money. It's worthless.
The people of Zimbabwe are exhausted, hungry and poor. But those two bishops and many other Zimbabweans I've met have integrity and a quiet dignity. They won't be celebrating Christmas with lots of gifts. They'll listen to the story and think about the birth of hope. They'll be able to identify very easily with a poor refugee couple away from home, pushed from pillar to post by a political power but not giving in. Click here to read the rest of this message on EDP24