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Christmas Message 2017 from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

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Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Christmas Message 2017
 

(click the photo at right for video)

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says,

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new is come.

At a point in that passage, St. Paul says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself,” and he also says at another point in the same passage, “and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.” 

Have you ever gone to the movies or read a story or a novel, and the novel starts with the end, so you know where the story ends, but then the rest of the story or the novel is actually the story behind the story. We know about Christmas. We know about Mary.  We know about Joseph. We know about the angels singing Gloria in excelsis deo. We know from our childhood the animals in the stable. We know of the magi who come from afar, arriving around Epiphany, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We know of the angels singing in the heavens, and the star that shown above them.  Therein is the story. 

But the story behind the story is what St. Paul was talking about. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and Jesus has now given us that same ministry of reconciliation. God was reconciling the world to himself by becoming one of us. The divine became human. God entered history. Eternity became part of time. God was reconciling the world to himself by actually living it himself. In Jesus, God came among us to show us the way, to be reconciled with the God who has created us all and everything that is. And God has likewise come in the person of Jesus, to show us how to be reconciled with each other, as children of the one God who is the Creator of us all.  That's the story behind Christmas.

God is showing us the Way to become God's children, and as God's children, brothers and sisters of each other. God is showing us in Jesus how to become God's family and how to change, and build, and make a world where everybody is a part of that family. Where children don't go to bed hungry. Where no one has to be lonely. Where justice is real for all and where love is the ultimate law.

Know there is a story behind the story, and it's a story worth singing about, and giving thanks for, and then living.

One of my favorite writers, the late Howard Thurman, composed a poem many years ago about Christmas, and he says it probably better than I:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
Then the work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace to others,
And alas, to make music in the heart.

The story behind the story is that God so loved the world, and so loves you, and so loves me.

Have a blessed Christmas, a wonderful New Year, and go out and make music in the heart of the world.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message 2013

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“May that royal inheritance and authority of the stable be born in you, enliven your heart, and rest on your shoulders.”

[December 12, 2013] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in her Christmas Message 2013 prays: “May you discover that humble authority born again on the edges of the world’s notice. May that royal inheritance and authority of the stable be born in you, enliven your heart, and rest on your shoulders.”

The following is the Presiding Bishop’s message:

Christmas message 2013

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah pronounces these words to a people who remember the yoke of slavery laid on their shoulders. They’ve been waiting for this child, whose birth transforms that yoke into a mantle of authority. They are promised that this authority will continue to grow as the peaceable commonwealth is established – with justice and righteousness for all, and for ever.

This promise is spoken anew to people in every age, to those who have lived under oppression or in dark depression, to the hungry and ill and imprisoned. The birth we celebrate offers hope, in Word made flesh, who comes among us to heal and walk this way with us. The mantle of authority on his shoulders begins in the swaddling clothes of a child born in the humblest of circumstances. Yet that authority is recognized even by foreigners from far away. That mantle of authority does continue to grow, through a life offered for others, raised into new life, and passed on to new generations of fleshly God-bearers. Wherever justice and righteousness is done, that authority is growing, borne on the shoulders of the Prince of Peace.

He comes again, bearing the grace of the One whose image he wears in flesh. Seek him, sing his new song, declare his glory, and tell out the good news to all the nations: God reigns, and he is coming bearing righteousness and truth on his shoulders.

May you discover that humble authority born again on the edges of the world’s notice. May that royal inheritance and authority of the stable be born in you, enliven your heart, and rest on your shoulders. Bear it abroad in peace, this year and throughout the ages.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church