Watch above: Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York offers a Christmas message for 2019. This Christmas, how will our vision of “a world healed by love” change how we live each day?
A transcript is below.
Dear friends, I wonder what would the world be like if it were healed by love. Our draft vision statement is bold and speaks of something I don’t think we can actually envision: a world that’s healed because of the power of love.
I don’t know about you, but this Christmas I find myself a bit sad: missing people who have died, thinking about the brokenness around us in the world, and all the suffering that is happening. Thinking about the partisanship that has driven good Americans apart so that we’re no longer having conversations, but fighting over issues that divide us.
How might “a world healed by love,” as a vision statement of what will be different because of our ministry, both inspire and challenge us? How might it give us hope and help us to commit ourselves with dedication to faithful living in the service of God?
Jesus comes to us in the vulnerability of being unwanted. Here, Mary has had this wonderful proclamation of being blessed, of being visited by an angel, of saying yes to God and putting her life at risk and then journeying and finding that no one cares, that no one wants them, that no one has made a place for her.
So on a dark cold night (we can only imagine—of course it wasn’t dark or cold, but we have here the winter solstice, so we live into the snow in Syracuse and we think dark and cold!) But nonetheless, here you have this young woman pregnant, pregnant with all sorts of expectations. And no one with a readiness to receive her.
You and I sometimes can be a little bit like that: where we feel we have good news to share, but we can get so overwhelmed by the brokenness around us that we stop speaking, or think, “no one really wants to hear this anyway. Why tell them about the love of Jesus? They’ll only scoff.”
But dear friends, this world is waiting for our message of hope and love in a profound and meaningful way at this time. You and I know something the world is hungry to know, which is that love actually is what heals us.
So when we walk into the board room or the classroom or the coffeehouse and we’re seeking to live lives where the world might be healed by love, how will it change what we say and what we do?
The apostle Paul tells us to incite one another to good works. This is something I don’t think we often think about as Christians: that we’re competing to love and out-love one another. Not for selfish gain or to prove that we’re the best or for the sake of some weird sense of power, but rather to prove that God is the greatest. To prove that the love of Jesus is the most profound encounter we can have and that we have been transformed and healed by something that is so powerful and so inspiring, it is beyond our control.
You and I need the vulnerability of the manger. We need both a sense of living into when we’re feeling not wanted, or feeling sad, or lonely, and knowing that God is faithful. That God meets us in that loneliness and transcends it. That God calls the shepherds and the magi and God calls all of us together (and yes, it’s not Epiphany yet, so don’t rush the magi, keep them away from the mangers!) but God calls all of us together as we are, to be healed by the divine, eternal love of Jesus.
Dear friends, I pray this Christmas will be profound for you and for our world. That we will recommit ourselves to doing good and find new ways of speaking words to a world that has forgotten that love is the answer, that love is what heals us, and that each time you and I choose to love, it is an act of transformation and hope.
Blessings to you, and Merry Christmas in this season of incarnational love.