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Advent is here and nothing can stop Christmas … not a pandemic nor disappointment nor injustice nor despair nor anything else that seeks to overwhelm our existence. That is a fact, a promise, and our hope.
As it is written, “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV)
God so loved the world that he gave his very self, his very son to the world, and to us. Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture and the very embodiment of God’s omnipotent love. Jesus is the perpetual light that breaks through the darkness and pain in the world, and in our lives, and restores our hope, our peace and our joy. Jesus is the manifestation of God’s grace and the outpouring of God’s unconditional love in our lives. Love came down at Christmas!
This has been a very difficult year and we have had to endure many unexpected changes in our lives, our work, and in the Church. We have relied on our faith, our families and on each other in ways we never thought of or even imagined. We have had to delve into the inner-most parts of ourselves to tap into our reservoir of strength and creativity in ways we had not before. And through it all God gave himself to us … God has been lovingly faithful and has given us the fortitude we need to remain steadfast amidst the uncertainty. That’s what love is … patient, generous, merciful, unconditional, risk-taking and all-encompassing. That’s what love does … comforts, heals, liberates, forgives and transforms. Love came down at Christmas!
I am convinced that the season of Advent is more about God’s activity and not ours. It is a season to reflect on the extraordinary gift of God’s love … Jesus Christ … and the difference Christ makes in our lives and through our witness in the world. It is a season of steady preparedness and an expectation to encounter daily the love of Jesus and to share daily the life-changing ministry of Jesus. We all can shine the light of Christ in our communities and throughout the world. Every prayer, every act of kindness, every expression of love and every act of justice we do in Jesus’ name brings more of his light, love and peace into the world. That’s what love is! That’s what love does!
Every ministry plan that has been modified and all the creativity that has gone into planning a safe, physically distanced but intimate and meaningful Advent and Christmas experience is bringing more of Christ’s love and light into our communities and into the world. It is caring for the health and well-being of our neighbor. That’s what love is! That’s what love does!
The Christmas story is our story and to each of us is born a savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. The Christmas story is a living story that invites us to enter into it over and over again, to receive God’s extravagant gifts – the ongoing gift of love, joy, hope and peace.
Have a Blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas!
“Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
“Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.”
Bishop Tracy S. Malone
Resident Bishop to the
East Ohio Conference
Executive Secretary to the Bishop
Rev. Ed Peterson
Executive Assistant to the Bishop
The East Ohio Conference Office:
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near Akron-Canton Airport.
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