My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I offer you my prayers and blessings in this joyous Season of Christmas. Let us reflect on God’s greatest gift to us: the incarnation of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Emmanuel, God among us.
The idea of ‘gift’ is central to our celebration of Christmas, both in our Church and society in general. We give and receive gifts, big and small. Our children make their gift lists, we have “White Elephant” and other kinds of gift exchanges with colleagues, and we might go all out to find that perfect gift for our significant other. Truly, the pursuit of gift at Christmas occupies a lot of our time and energy. Our intentions in this are noble. On the other hand, we might do well to slow down and consider the deeper meaning of gift in our lives. What better time to do that than at Christmas?
More than a passing thought in the bustle of the holiday season, Jesus Christ is the gift we celebrate at Christmas, made flesh by our God, who sent Him to live among us. This does not come to us in shiny giftwrap, in the anticipation of being surprised by what is inside and receiving something new. It is a gift we know yet are called constantly to rediscover. Let us receive the Lord in our hearts anew in this holy season and throughout the coming year.
In our Catholic faith we also celebrate seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. How valuable these are to us as we walk the path God has laid for us, amid the noise and struggle and busyness of our lives. These gifts are not given for our entertainment or amusement, they are what we need in order to become the person that God created us to be. Let us open them again this Christmas and throughout 2020. We will need them as we navigate a general election year and as we continue as a Diocese in our journey of Episcopal Transition. These gifts call us to listen, to reflect and to question; they call us to prayer and to dialogue; they call us to accompaniment and forgiveness of those in our lives; they call us to encounter the Lord in those we don’t know, who may be different from us in some way.
Indeed, Christmas is a time of joy and light-heartedness. Our gift giving and receiving is a way to express that. At the same time, let us leave some time to consider the eternal gift that God gave us in the birth of His Son. It is the best one we will ever receive.
May God bless you and your loved ones at this sacred time and let us continue to pray for one another throughout 2020.