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Christmas Message 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

The old adage, “Hindsight is 2020” keeps running through my mind, and seems more appropriate than ever, as we come to the close of this calendar year! Most of us, for good reasons, are looking forward to seeing this challenging year in the rearview mirror, and ushering in a new year with a fresh new start! There is no question that 2020 has stretched us, frustrated us, caused us to face incredible sickness and loss, and to do almost everything in life very differently. This has been one of the most challenging times most of us have ever faced! And yet, as we look back at those challenges I see so many important things that we have learned! Lessons I pray we will hold onto even as we move into a new future.

In a recent Meditation from Father Richard Rohr, he talked about the Spiritual Discipline of Remaining in Place, and he asks the question, “What if the challenges of the current moment are actually offering us an invitation to let go of our ideas of freedom and mobility and to consciously participate with reality in a new way?” Father Rohr explains that many traditions use this spiritual practice of remaining in one place as a way of letting go of our desires for alternatives and exits; for charting our own course, and instead to surrender, and to be fully present where we are; to “sit” with God without reservation. It seems to be a practice that frees one from distractions and our own “busy” plans, and just allows us to be!

In some ways I see this, the concept and importance of being fully present, as a gift we have learned, or are learning! In the midst of the chaos of and challenges of 2020, I am feeling and hearing deeper appreciation for home and family, for a slower pace of life that allows us to think more clearly about what is truly important, and as one pastor shared with me, “to have regular time just to sit down and eat meals together with family.”

I hear many leaders across our Synod share that while it is challenging to offer worship online and in parking lots, and in many and various different ways than we ever have before, we are also reaching many, many more people with the Word of God than we ever did before! Thousands more people are joining in worship in these days. Technology has literally allowed us to share the Word of God across the world and around the corner! That is a miracle, and a gift that the world has needed. I saw a most profound statement made by Peggy Haymes on one of my friend’s Facebook Posts. She wisely said, “I think God calls us to worship, not worship the way that we worship!”  AMEN, Peggy!  We are called to worship, Jesus, the Christ child! We are not called to worship the way we do things, not even the ways we worship. I will remember this and hold it in my heart.

I am so thankful for each of our Pastors, Deacons and Council leaders who have worked so hard and done their faithful best to innovate and share the powerful gift of God’s Word in new ways throughout the year. I pray you will all enjoy some rest and recreation this holiday season. I am thankful to each of you who have joined in and continue to live out your faithfulness by supporting the decisions of your congregational leaders. And I give thanks every day that the people of God in the South Carolina Synod have cared for their neighbors and worked together to keep everyone as safe as possible during this precarious and challenging time. I pray we will always be the kind of people who care for our neighbors and do what it takes to make Christ’s love known in our communities and around the globe.

May the true gift of Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us, be your source of strength and pure joy this season. May your heart be filled with the love of the Lord and your mind be filled with peace.

On behalf of our entire staff: May you have a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year, in Christ Jesus!

Bishop Ginny Aebischer

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ELCA South Carolina Synod
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Telephone 803-765-0590
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