Christmas and New Year Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Season of Advent with its four Sundays has always been a special time personally, with its joyful anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child. The subtle reminders in the church, with the Advent Candles being lighted on each of the four Sundays, along with the hymns and music of that season, put us into the spirit of what is coming. Our Anglican Tradition runs counter to the world around us, which has been going full-speed in the celebration of Christmas for many weeks. For the Church, however, the “sign and symbol” of the Advent Season is the curmudgeonly prophet John the Baptist, who announces the coming of the Messiah, with words of condemnation and warning to repent, “…I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” (John 1:23). As we enter the Church for the celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, our joyful anticipation is realized as we hear the glorious music of Christmas amidst the flowers and candles. The one “who is preferred before me…,” as John the Baptist said, has come among us, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem. The God of the Universe has come among us, in lowly birth, laid in a manger in a cattle barn. The wonderful hope of all faithful Christians is this one, who was born at a particular time in history, has promised to come again; only his second coming will be in power and great glory.  Before long, Christmas will be here. In fact, it is only hours away. Before you visit the manger in Bethlehem, I encourage you to go into the wilderness and listen to the words of John the Baptist. Christ wants a Christmas gift from us, namely a lowly and contrite heart – a heart of penitence for the past, a heart of honest purpose and commitment to Christ for the future. Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year,
The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, D.D., Presiding Bishop
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