Bishop’s Christmas Message
“Be silent, all people, before the Lord;
for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling”
(Zechariah 2: 13)
At Christmas we hold true to the faith that genuine hope and new life are breathed into our lives, so we may start afresh, once again believing in God who first and foremost believed in us, enough to risk his son Jesus to be born as one of us. Recalling the first Christian family, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus and recalling the host of heavenly presence and animals associated with his birth – the love we see in Jesus’ family is the love that we are called to express and embody toward everyone including the care for creation.
Christmas challenges the church to reflect on the question, why did God choose to enter history as a homeless child? Although his loving parents were returning to the city of their ancestors where both had roots – relatives or friends we assume could have taken them in – the nativity narrative shows otherwise, and Jesus was born in a manger. Even in the very beginning of Jesus’ life on earth, God wanted to demonstrate a virtue needed for salvation—humility.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ reveals the selfless offering of a young woman – Mary, and her willingness to abandon herself to God to be used for the salvation of the world. The baby Jesus is God’s gift at Christmas to a world darkened by many demonstrations and manifestations of evil – a world where dark deeds of various shapes and forms were both tolerated and promoted. It is about a young child sent to change the world for good. The prophet Isaiah proclaims “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel – ‘God is with us’ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). A LIGHT to shine brightly pointing all humanity to the way out of DARKNESS (a darkness understood in the New Testament to be a metaphor for ‘evil or human brokenness’).
Mary was surprised, humbled, and blessed (Luke 1:42) by the message of the angel Gabriel, sent from God to announce the miraculous birth of Jesus. Likewise, on this eve of Christmas and more particularly at times such as the present, God is delivering that same message to each of us and to the world. God’s holy, unconditional, and unwavering love is still present through the inhabiting or indwelling of the baby Jesus in our souls. Remembering this miracle and celebrating it this season, allows the faithful to give God praise even during a pandemic besieging the world’s population. Jesus is he who shall wage a relentless defense against the enemy, including the COVID-19 virus that has threatened the well-being of the beloved community of God.
Bishop Peter Price, one of my bishop colleagues in the Anglican Communion, writes in his Advent Daily Reflections – A Shaking Reality, “The ‘shaking reality’ of Christmas is that we are invited to be ‘born again’, to re-engage with what is authentic, real; so that we may grow in our understanding of ‘God’s promise of redemption and release’; of compassion, to peace within, that we might be signs of resurrection.”
The light of the world is here for all to see, worship and embrace. In the comforting words of the angels to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people: to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our beloved episcopal family in the Diocese of Easton, and all people everywhere. May the love of Jesus shine HOPE, GRATITUDE, ASSURANCE, and LOVE at this Christmas season and all through the New Year 2021.
Peace, joy & love!
+San & Lynn