Bishop Skirving's Christmas Letter
One of my greatest joys, in these days before Christmas, has been the pictures, videos and stories of our grandchildren learning and then sharing with others the story of the birth of Jesus. In one picture, we have seen our grandson introducing his little sister to the characters of the Playmobil nativity set that we gave him a few years ago. In a video, we listened to him sing a verse of “Silent Night” as a contribution to the online Christmas pageant that his church is producing. We’ll be able to “watch” the pageant even though we won’t be able to be with them in person. As our daughter tells us the stories of how their family will celebrate Christmas in this very strange and strained year, I am filled with joy. She and her husband are passing on to their children traditions that I learned from my parents and which Sandy and I shared with her and her brother when they were young. And they’re doing so within the limitations of this time of pandemic while, with their church, using technologies available now that we did not have when I was a child.
There is darkness all around us this year. I don’t think that I need to detail that darkness for you in this letter. All of us have experienced at least a little, some of us have experienced far too much. Yet even this year, the eternal truth of John 1:5 rings true: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Every year, and especially this year, we are called to be like the shepherds in Luke’s telling of the Christmas story. (Luke 2:8-20) Terrified by the sudden appearance of an angel, they listened to God’s messenger proclaim, “Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” Moving beyond their terror they went to see the thing that had taken place in Bethlehem, they made known to Mary and Joseph what the angel had told them about their child, and then they returned to their work in the fields, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.
In the midst of the illness, grief, suffering and anxiety that is all around us, yet still we can see signs of “good news of great joy” in the eyes of our youngest and in the generous acts of compassion and selfless sacrifices made by so many for the common good. Cut off from familiar seasonal activities and traditions, yet still we can make known to others all of the joy that we see and, in so doing, bear witness to God’s light in the darkness.
Unable to worship as many of us would prefer, and in the ways that we remember, yet still we can glorify and praise God in our own time, with all of the means available to us.
May each of us know God’s good news of great joy, in the midst of whatever lies ahead. May we make that good news known to others. And may we glorify and praise God in whatever new and creative ways that we can. May God’s blessing be with you and those whom you love this Christmas season and all year round.
Yours in Christ,
Tags: Letters from the Bishop