A Christmas message from Bishop Herman Yoos for 2018

Mary Visits Elizabeth

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

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Luke 1:39-45

Just recently my family was together with my pregnant daughter, who is expecting her first child in early January. Several times she would interrupt our conversation and say, “Put your hand here, the baby is very active.” Most of the time, the person who placed their hands on her tummy were disappointed because that would be the very moment the baby stopped kicking or became shy to another’s touch. Yet even when we couldn’t detect the “kick,” our daughter certainly did. The effect on us was a sense of this unborn child letting us know she was already a part of our family and was making her presence known. These were joyful moments.

In this passage, Mary is visiting her elder relative, Elizabeth, who thought at her late age she would never get pregnant. Much to her surprise, however, she also was expecting her first child. It was right when these two expectant moms came together that the unborn John the Baptist decided to leap inside Elizabeth’s womb and make his presence known. Elizabeth interpreted this “kick” as something more than just a baby kick; instead it was a sign from the Holy Spirit that Mary was carrying the Christ child. And she exclaimed with joy, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb . . . And blessed is she who believed there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

This year when you watch most of the Christmas movies on television, I invite you to notice how often they use the word “believe” or “faith” to talk about who Santa is or what Santa does, or why Santa comes. Our culture loves to play around with this concept of “faith and Christmas” belonging together. Yet what is missing most is the messiness of an unexpected human pregnancy to a 14-year-old peasant girl in Palestine who dared to believe in God’s promise that she would give birth to the Messiah. I can’t help but wonder what God may be inviting us to pay close attention to this Christmas, and how our lives can also be a witness to God’s incredible loving promises for our world.

Let us pray.

Dear God,
Open our eyes this Advent and Christmas season to the mystery of your promises being fulfilled in and through the birth of Jesus. Free us from cynicism and indifference to the hurts and needs of others, and use our words and actions to share your loving and forgiving intentions for humanity.

In the name of the Christ Child and for his sake we pray.

Amen.

Merry Christmas
from the staff of the
South Carolina Synod

The Rev. Herman Yoos, Bishop
The Rev. Ginny Aebischer, Asst. to the Bishop
The Rev. Eric Wolf, Asst. to the Bishop
The Rev. Rick Carter, Dir. for Evangelical Mission
The Rev. Ozzie Herlong, Dir. for Stewardship
Jenny Spearen, Executive Asst. to the Bishop
Charlene Fink, Synod Accountant
Tiffany Pieters, Administrative Asst.
Neal F. Fischer, Dir. for Communications

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