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Christmas Greeting 2022

 “In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them. ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2: 8-12

Each year teachers and children in churches prepare the Christmas program so that our little ones get to tell the amazing story of Jesus’ birth. These Christmas programs have proven over the years to be memorable moments because we all know that things can get “messy” backstage when angel wings accidentally bump into one another, and shepherds can’t find their robe or staff, and Mary and Joseph have to hunt for the baby doll and find a blanket to wrap it in. We never know which little angel will cry or scream for mom or dad when the bright lights and all the eyes of the congregation are focused on them! A children’s Christmas program always provides us memorable moments of joy in being together and in our children sharing the holy story of Christmas.

One particular year, little Bobby was given the part of the announcing Angel. Bobby was to come out on stage and say, “I have marvelous tidings of celestial joy!” Those seem like hard words for a little one.  I’m not even sure some of us adults could get that scripted line correctly spoken, but Bobby was proud and determined. So he practiced over and over again: “I have marvelous tidings of celestial joy!” “I have marvelous tidings of celestial joy!” I’m sure you can just imagine it. Perhaps you have even experienced a version of this story.

His mom and dad were so proud of his hard work. His angel costume made from a sheet with gold and silver garland attached and beautiful wings was ironed and ready. Bobby was ready! And the day of the program came, and the time for Bobby’s appearance came. Bobby enthusiastically made his entrance onto the stage, saw the sea of faces and, froze! As he looked from side to side, his eyes got bigger and bigger. He was petrified with fear! But then he saw the familiar faces of his parents smiling and looking up at him expectantly.  The lovely words of “marvelous tidings of celestial joy” just wouldn’t come, but Bobby got the gist of those words. He knew their meaning in his heart, and just like children know how to do… he stole the show when he shouted out joyfully at the top of his lungs,

“Oh boy, have I got Good News for all of you!”

Indeed, the birth of Jesus is Good News for all of us, of every age! Christmas is the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us!

The true essence of Christmas is that our God comes into the chaos and messiness of what we call life. God comes to us as a baby born during a time when the city was so crowded that there wasn’t enough lodging even for a young pregnant woman, and she was left to give birth in the midst of a smelly and probably noisy barn (even if our hymns tend to make it sound as if everything including the animals was quiet and peaceful) that night. The miracle of Christmas is that God comes to us even if our homes are not decorated like a magazine ad, or our family doesn’t always get along and agree on the topics discussed around the dinner table. God is with us even when there has been no work and no money to purchase gifts, or work has been so busy that we haven’t had time to even think about presents. God is with us when we celebrate, but also with us when our hearts are heavy because a loved one is ill or has been buried this year. There is no stable, no home, no heart, no place in the world or in our lives that is too poor, too remote, too outcast or too dirty for our God to join us. This is the miracle of Christmas!

We each have reason to hope and to celebrate at Christmas because God does not wait for the conditions to be perfect, peaceful or serene. God comes where we are and embraces us as we are. It is God’s presence in our world and Jesus’ unconditional love which we rejoice over at Christmas. And the Good News is that God remains with us even when life is messy and unpredictable.

May your celebrations give you memorable moments that bring real joy and the true hope of Christmas!

Oh boy, have I got Good News for all of you!

Immanuel, Jesus is with us!

Merry Christmas and Blessings for a Healthy and Happy New Year.

+Bishop Ginny Aebischer

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