My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we gather together as families, friends, communities, and churches to celebrate the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the world around us is desperately searching for hope, peace, joy, and love.
In the midst of this reality, we sing “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray, cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today” (United Methodist Hymnal #230, verse 4).
As we sing this hymn, may we prayerfully ask, “What does it look like when the Holy Child of Bethlehem is born in us today as people of God, in the midst of a world seeking hope, peace, joy, and love?”
The Christmas Day reading from John 1:14 reminds us, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
John indicates Jesus’ divinity and humanity were fully at play as he lived. He provided spiritual direction to the people around him during his earthly ministry “full of grace and truth.”
What does it look like, if Jesus is born in us today and we become the embodiment of him, living with grace and truth? What does grace look like when we truly live it out in real-life situations?
Recently, while checking out at a local grocery store, the clerk mentioned a religious custom she celebrates. Naturally, she piqued my curiosity, so I asked her about it. She explained the custom and told me, “I am a Christian …” I appreciated her willingness to talk openly about her faith.
As I left the store, I realized what a difference it would make in our shopping malls, workplaces, and even in our churches, if we not only sang hymns of grace, but lived them, as this clerk did. As Jesus did.
As I reflect on the word “truth,” I remember the words of the late Dr. John Deschner, a theology professor, who said in a lecture that the Greek word for truth, alítheia, signifies people opening up to one another like those who are deeply in love; people sharing things with one another without hiding anything.
What difference would it make in our lives if our conversations stopped being carefully packaged or sugar-coated and became a sharing of truth, justice, and peace that models Christ?
As we exchange gifts, attend parties, and celebrate Christmas, it is my prayer that we pause to reflect on the reason for the season and ask, “What does it look like when Jesus Christ is born within us anew; when we become the embodiment of Jesus, and grace and truth become our mantra as baptized Christians?”
May God grant us the grace, filled with the love of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to ask this question in the midst of our celebrations.
Prema joins me in wishing you and your loved ones a merry Christmas!
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar