Christmas Message from Bishop Middleton

Christmas Message from Bishop Middleton

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Dear Beloved Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and peace to you in this season of Christmas!

Emmanuel, God with us. “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you – wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10b-11 CEB)

We find ourselves today in what some would describe as a wilderness of terror. When these fears paralyze and overwhelm, those who would do harm have already succeeded. The first words in the announcement of the birth of Jesus were, “Don’t be afraid!”

We are a people of faith, not a people of fear. Our heritage as people of courage includes Moses who led God’s people through the wilderness, John Wesley who proclaimed good news in the fields and taverns, and Francis Asbury who traveled by horseback in all kinds of weather and in all stages of ill health. Even today as we seek to eradicate malaria and to reach out with the good news in innovative and risky ways we continue the tradition.

The Cabinet was touring the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek in Cambodia on the day we received word of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Choeung Ek is a memorial to the two and a half million Cambodians who were massacred by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.  Spending time walking, praying and reflecting in the midst of a few of the 20,000 mass graves which have been found throughout that country was a powerful, deeply moving reminder of the capacity of humans to commit unspeakable horrors against other humans.

As we heard the news from Paris, now a few weeks later from San Bernardino, and as we remember with unspeakable sorrow the tragedy at Sandy Hook, as well as being aware of the many acts of terror throughout the world, it is possible to become overwhelmed.

But we must remember also that Jesus was born into a world of many threats. He was born into a land ruled by Romans who levied heavy taxes and imposed horribly repressive laws. Jesus was sent by God to show us another way, a third way, a way that calls for love and for justice. We are a people called to live in faith, hope and love.

This is our story which we can proclaim with confidence and without fear as we join our voices with the angels, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” (Luke 2:14)

In Christ's love,

Bishop Jane Allen Middleton