A Christmas Greeting from Bishop Michael Rhyne

     

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Merry Christmas (or Christmas Eve) to all of you in the name of God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I pray that as you celebrate this Christmas season, you are surrounded by the peace of Christ and know his presence in your lives.

            Christmas is a season of hope.  We have hope because Christ has come, and because our Lord Jesus is with us now and always.  That is what makes all the difference.

            Why?  Because it makes a difference that the one who is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, has come into this world, claimed you in the waters of baptism, and promises to never let you go.  Evil, and sin, and death will not overcome you, because you belong to Jesus and he stands with you now and always. Yes we all will die, but we know that Jesus has the ultimate victory over sin, death and the devil.  In short sisters and brother, be not afraid because Christ Jesus has come.        

            Consider this as well.  Heaven and eternal blessedness is much more comfortable than this world we live in.  Yet Jesus Christ came here among us.  He lowered himself, taking on a human body, and he allowed himself to be subject to and experience all those things that we have to deal with in this life.  He was born into poverty, he knew rejection, he knew loneliness, he experienced betrayal at the hands of his friends, and he even knew death – a horrible death upon a cross. 

When we consider all that Christ did here it shows us something.  We cannot think that Jesus doesn’t understand what we go through.  No matter how bad it gets, I can’t think that Jesus doesn’t understand how hard this life can be.  Because he has been through all the nastiness that life could throw at him. Jesus is God, yet he came and went through all those things that we have to face, and when we look to that cross, we should understand that he went through some things much worse than we will ever experience.

He did that because he loves us.  He did that because God loves you and cherishes you so much, that he would not abandon you to the evils of this world.  But he stands with us and holds us in the midst of our struggles.  Our Lord is the one who reassures us that whatever may come “This too shall pass,” and no matter what, we have the certainty of his presence and the promise of eternal life with him. 

That is why we have Hope.  Because when we look to that little baby lying in the manger, we see the promise of God that he is always with us and will never let us go.  We see the Lord of Heaven and Earth who loved you and me so much that he came here to save us.

The Hope for us is that no matter what evils this world throws at us we know that Jesus is with us.   We know that Jesus never abandons us.  If he was going to abandon us, he could have avoided the cross, or gotten off and saved himself the trouble.  But no matter what pain, what suffering, what evils were thrown at him – Jesus went to all lengths and held back nothing to save us.

That is the one who has come, that is the one who we celebrate in this season.  God has done this amazing thing.  He loved you and me so much that he held back nothing of himself to make sure we could be with him forever.  In the season of Christmas, we therefore celebrate the hope we have because Christ has come, and Christ is here, and that makes all the difference.

 

May God bless and keep you now and always.

In Christ

+Bishop Michael Rhyne