Christmas 2021: a letter from Bishop Skirving
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word:
Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for the First Sunday After Christmas
Greetings to you this Christmas season, as we celebrate again “the birth in time of the timeless Son of God.”  Although we continue to find ourselves living within limitations imposed upon us during this time of pandemic, I pray that your celebrations will be both joyful and safe!
Attached to the acoustic guitar which sits on a stand in my home office, there is a battery powered gadget which provides me with a visual signal indicating whether each of the six strings is sharp, flat, or in tune. With the help of this guitar tuner, I can then adjust each of the strings until they are perfectly in tune with one another and together able to produce beautiful harmonies.
Imagine if we had a device which could similarly provide a visual signal for us as to whether our heart, soul, mind, and strength were perfectly in tune such that the light of God’s love could shine forth from our lives? That’s the image that emerges for me from the Collect for the First Sunday After Christmas, an image which seems particularly powerful for me as we enter the Christmas season.
What if we were to pray that the light of God’s love would burn in our hearts in such a way as to brighten the dark places of this world? How might our lives and our relationships be transformed? How might the world be transformed? Each Christmas, we hear these words from John’s gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” 
This Christmas, I pray that the light of God’s love will burn brightly in your heart, pushing back every darkness. And I pray that this same light will shine out from our lives into the world where we live, so that all may know the great gift of God in Christmas!
Yours in Christ,
Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
1 The Book of Alternative Services (Anglican Church of Canada), page 120.
2 The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verse 5, NRSV.