Isle of Man Post Office is very pleased to present our festive stamp set for Christmas 2020. This six stamp collection beautifully conveys the spirit of Christmas in a traditional manner, featuring scenes and artworks inspired by the story of the nativity.
The issue text for this collection has been written by Lord Bishop, The Rt Revd PA Eagles, Bishop of Sodor and Man who reflects on the struggles of the previous year. He says of the stamps ‘Let them remind us of blessings received throughout this difficult year. The light shines in the darkness, and, while it may flicker from time to time, it can never be extinguished or overcome’.
The year 2020 began with great promise. Not just was there the usual excitement of a New Year, but it was the beginning of a new decade, and a time for looking forward to new opportunities and discoveries. There were rumours of a virus that was emerging in Asia, but that seemed so far away, and, after all, is humanity not now an advanced civilisation that can effectively control its own destiny?
How different it looks as we move towards the end of the year. Far from shaping our own society as we wish, we have been forced, across the world, to adopt acute defensive measures that no-one had envisaged. Far from 2020 being a year of inter-connected human endeavour, it has turned out for many to be an experience of isolation and fearfulness, and for others a year of illness, bereavement, loss, and death. With this, there has come unemployment, economic hardship, and increased disparity between wealth and poverty. In many parts of our world, the poor have become much, much poorer, with this dreadful dispossessedness often exacerbated by human incompetence or natural disaster.
These are difficult words, but they are true, and around them lurk other issues of concern, especially the climate of our planet. But it is also in our human nature to look for good: good in one another, good in the world around. We may therefore wish, at the end of the year, to be grateful for many things in the life of our Island, and to acknowledge that we have been richly blessed. In facing our challenges, we have experienced sadness, and we mourn the loss of life in our own community, loss of life that circumstances did not allow us to mark as we would have wished; but we have also experienced warmth, the comfort and support of each other, and a renewed understanding of the relationships of empathy that shape a caring and compassionate society.
For all these reasons, it is particularly appropriate that our Post Office offers us Christmas Stamps that tell the story of the nativity. These are events rooted in the experience of poverty, injustice and political oppression, uncertainty, vulnerability, and hardship. It tells of a child born to everyday impoverished parents in a dark, cold world where nothing could be taken for granted. In describing a small family on the edge of the unknown, the story of the nativity encapsulates the concerns of so many in our world today, and yet it also points towards light and hope: not without challenge and struggle, to be sure, but light and hope that can be a sign of new life and new beginnings. These Christmas Stamps invite us to draw that light and hope into our own lives, and to allow them to dispel darkness and sorrow. Let them remind us of blessings received throughout this difficult year. The light shines in the darkness, and, while it may flicker from time to time, it can never be extinguished or overcome.