ONE of the most positive things to have happened this year was the appointment by GB News of Calvin Robinson to host a regular Sunday programme.
This rising star is a British political commentator and broadcaster. But, most importantly and unusually, he is also a clergyman. He was ordained as a deacon in the Free Church of England (FCE) earlier this year.
There are two matters for celebration here. The first is to have amongst us such a youthful, articulate and passionate advocate for Christianity, unafraid to defend the faith and its moral and ethical basis, and whose wearing of his vestments turn this into an uncompromising visible statement. Never was there a time when this was more needed.
The second is that GB News has given him a platform to communicate Christianity through our TV screens. This is no ‘paying lip service’ exercise, of the sort to which the BBC has reduced its treatment of the country’s faith. It’s genuine, authentic Christian debate that Calvin has proved fearless about engaging in.
So it was great to hear that he was going to be hosting a special Christmas programme for GB News entitled Christmas: A Message of Hope, filmed in London’s beautiful Brompton Oratory. And it was even better to be given a sneak preview.
Calvin understands that Christianity is about beauty as well as about love, grace, truth and forgiveness. And there is something incredibly poetic and beautiful about the Christmas story – the word made flesh in the body of the Christ child. Calvin introduces this and explains it so well at the start of the programme that it made me want more sermon from him, not less. How often can one ever say that about a clergyman!
The programme is complemented by carols sung by the Oratory’s wonderful choir, directed by Professor Patrick Russill. We are treated to four classics – Quem Pastores, O Little One Sweet, All My Heart This Night Rejoices, and Angels We Have Heard on High.
There are interviews with some of the great Christian thinkers and preachers of today. These include Bishop Robert Baron, the wonderful Gavin Ashenden, now a British Catholic layman – Chaplain to the Queen and Anglican Bishop until his resignation in 2017 – and John Milbank, English Anglican theologian and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Nottingham.
For me, most interesting of all, there is a painfully honest interview with Rod Dreher, senior writer at The American Conservative, who explains what orthodox Christianity means and how suffering is part of life. To be a Christian, for me certainly, you have to understand suffering, that ‘even joy is not unmixed’. His message for all those suffering and who have suffered this year is ‘hold fast to Jesus Christ’. He is right.
Nor does the programme avoid the horrendous politics of the last two years. Calvin talks to Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne about how his faith shaped his political principles and criticism of the Government.
You can watch Christmas: A Message of Hope on Christmas Eve at 2pm and on Christmas Day at 5am and 11am. Meanwhile, you can see a short clip here.
Having previewed the programme, all I know is that I want to see more of Calvin’s preaching next year.
GB News is a British free-to-air television and radio news channel. It is on channel number 236 on Freeview. It is also available on Freesat, Sky, YouView, Virgin Media and via the internet. Since January 4, 2022, an audio simulcast of the station has been available on DAB+ radio.