Presiding Bishop’s Christmas Message 2012

'Discover the love of God poured into our world in human form'

Posted Dec 13, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] “Discover the love of God poured into our world in human form,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says in her Christmas Message 2012.

The following is the text of the presiding bishop’s Christmas Message 2012:

Christmas Message 2012

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined. Isaiah 9:2

These words were spoken long ago to people living in anxiety, fear, and despair, people feeling bereft of security, safety, and any sense of God’s presence. We hear them early on Christmas, forgetting that they were first spoken hundreds of years before the birth we celebrate. Human beings across this planet still yearn to know that a more gracious and divine reality is active and evident in our lives.

The birth we celebrate is meant for this world mired in darkness and fear, yet it also becomes easier to discover in a tiny voice crying in protest over being cold and wet and hungry. We hear that cry in the midst of war’s ravages in Congo and Afghanistan, in the rubble of hurricane and earthquake, in the demeaning of chronic poverty, behind prison bars. That flickering of hope surges as the world turns to investigate this surprising new life, one heart at a time. The light grows as hearts catch fire with the same light that illumines the stars, pulsing hope and new life, even out of black holes.

Those who search in dark and despair, in dank dungeon and deep devastation, will find divine light given for the world. Light that will not be put out, so long as any creature remains to receive it, until and beyond the end of time. The darkness will never put it out.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5

Go and look – and discover the love of God poured into our world in human form. Hope reigns abroad, in the cosmos and in human hearts. And rejoice, for a child of the light is born in our midst!

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


Comments (40)

  1. Doug Desper says:

    I have often noticed that many official and recommended communications from our leaders are very plain and clear in language regarding goals of social activism, reimagining the faith, and in the promotion of progressive (otherwise liberal) causes. Bad guys and good guys are clearly noted in language that can’t be mistaken. But, when the opportunity presents to clearly claim Jesus as the singular hope of the world and the promised Saviour I often find that the language is nuanced – and negligent to clearly celebrate Jesus Christ’s unique and superior place in comparison to all other claims. Today, we hear about some “child”. Yes – we get it (most of us). Jesus is hidden in that word “child” (not even with a capital “c” to distinguish this one as unqiue and greater from another child). I do not appreciate such equivocation in a message that goes on at length to describe human experience without once naming the Name of Jesus Christ. Of course, that some are not bothered is also revealing. Call me “old fashioned”, but on Jesus’ birthday we should at least use His Name – after all the PB attached her name clearly at the end. Does Jesus not deserve equal recognition? If we all know who ‘the child” is, why not just sign the letter “Your Presiding Bishop” since we all know who she is too? God forbid – it indeed looks like we are nearly liturgical Unitarians for relying on such cautious, unoffensive tones with such predictable regularity from year to year, and message to message.

  2. Jeffrey Sharp says:

    Neither would I.

  3. Anne Ferguson says:

    iT’S RIGHT THERE . . . .
    “And rejoice, for a child of the light is born in our midst!”

  4. Andy Hook says:

    “Child of light is born in our midst”? You mean Jesus? Come on PB, just try it out for once. You might like it!

    1. John R Huff Jr says:

      She thinks she has to make it sound religiously correct. All inclusive .

    2. Kathleen Bauer says:

      It sounds like to me someone needs to read the beginning of the Gospel of John. It is within context for the season and especially John 1:5 to refer to Jesus as the “child of the light”. I think you should also stop hating on the PB. It seems like every time there is a story posted about her you are rude and disrespectful. Negativity is never helpful.

      1. Doug Desper says:

        Kathleen –
        The reference to John 1:5 is more correctly: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”. (NRSV). Jesus is not referred to as the ‘child of the light’, but as the true light itself, and His Life is the light of all people. (vs 4). Some of us who are disturbed at the lack of the use of Jesus’ Name are not rude or disrespectful; we just expect the handling of Scripture and the praise of Jesus Christ to be more mature and specific and a lot less obscure and palatable to any New Age interpretation of Jesus.

  5. Joseph F Foster says:

    Re the two preceeding comments, you fellows are behind the times. The statement is pretty good for a denimination whose leadership has more confidence in the Wholely Trendy than the Holy Trinity.

  6. Jim Stockton says:

    Calm down, gents! It’s a message for the Church, not for the unintiated. If you can’t fill in the blanks, don’t blame the PB.

  7. I love the connections made here between the birth we celebrate and the needs of a world still in need of light. Yet, I think the world needs to hear the message of that child and to meet him; his name is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us — not only A child of the light but THE child — “God from God, light from light eternal,” the one through whom we become children of light. Working in anticipation of God’s new creation makes sense in light of the one who opened the way for us to join him in God’s mission of repairing the world. Our P.B. gives a wonderful invitation to look for him, but let’s be more direct in our invitation “O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”


  8. Jeffrey Sharp says:

    Yes, I know that it is for the initiated, but there does appear to be some desire to not offend those who feel uncomfortable with mentioning the name of Jesus as the focus of that divine enfleshment. Not once in the letter does the PB mention the name of Jesus. Secularists and atheists have no problem associating the name of Jeus and the witness/testimony to the unique historical act that is the witness of the Gospels, why should a leader in the church? “A child of the light” is way too nebulous. From the preceding statements in the letter that could be anyone who has hope that there is some light at the end of/in the darkness.

  9. Sarah Beth says:

    The reference to Jesus IS there…. and at th time this was written, theoriginal hearer did not yet know WHO this Child { Jesus} wa to be named. This was a prophecy made generations before te time of Christ’s birth.

    And , anyone ho ha ever been to an Episcopal church kows that our approach to Divine Liturgy is far from ” Wholely Trendy”.

  10. Jim Stockton says:

    Jesus, I really appreciate our PB’s understanding, Jesus, that the child born in Bethlehem, i.e. Jesus, was the prophesied branch, boulder, lamb, stream of living water, and, Jesus, follow that pre-Christian and post-nativity tradition that appreciates that Jesus was and is, Jesus, so much more than…well…just Jesus. How rich our scriptures and traditions for their wide range of expressions that, as broad and deep, Jesus, can barely provide a hint of all that is the Chrld of Light (i.e. Jesus).

    1. Thad Day says:

      Let’s try not to be too critical of our sister in Christ. Different approaches work differently with different groups. It was obvious to me she meant the birth of Jesus, especially in her Christmas message. If this same critique was used for John 1: 1-14 we might say it was “lacking.” Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1: 1-2)

  11. Anne Ferguson says:

    You all are a real mess! Shame on you!
    Why do you want to argue, smear, denigrate the season of Christmas with your petty bickering?

  12. Linda Gosling says:

    The message from the PB is clear…It is an awareness as to the need for an understanding of basic human rights for all. Nothing wrong with the message but one does expect a mention of CHRIST especially from a PB. As followers of Christ, let us remember that He is our focus. We seem to be distancing ourselves from Him. We are Anglicans, not Unitarians. There really is a difference.

  13. Bob Van Keuren says:

    Why are some people who can’t stand the Episcopal Church so preoccupied with everything the Episcopal Church does? I really wonder about that.

    1. John Morgan says:

      Perhaps some feel that the Episcopal church is also’s everyones duty to hold church leaders to the true word. As a baptized and confirmed Episcopalian I feel cheated and diminished everyday. The Episcopal church is abandoning the truth. Easy belieivism has crept into the church as well as political correctness. Why should people who think that a church they love and respect sit back and see it changed and rolled in the smear of popular world myth. It is not being preoccupied..unless you consider professing the word of Holy Scripture preoccupation.

  14. Coleen Tully says:

    I am glad some of you didn’t know the person who wrote my favorite Sunday School song …. This Little Light of Mine …. who knows what we might have ended up singing?

  15. Bruce Green says:

    One may want until the Feast of the Epiphany to celebrate it but this birth is for the whole world. We have a message to deliver to the whole world. “Peace to people of good will” may well exclude some people – because they exclude themselves. One does not need to be a member of the club to celebrate deliverance from darkness.

  16. Ray Williams says:

    To some it may seem to be bickering. But there a silent ignored number of Episcopalians who are Anglican at Heart and not Deists who preach a Humanistic Gospel not Christian message of hope. We are tired of being told to get along with every one and respect others point of view while our views and feelings are ignored. There nothing illiberal as a liberal.

    1. John Morgan says:

      Thank you Ray!

  17. Julian Malakar says:

    God’s gift to the whole world, His only begotten Son, was to free us from bondage of devil. To free spiritual bondage was not easy task and Christ had to pay the price by His blood. That is why He is called Christ the savior and every head must bow for gratitude to take His name. Darkness is caused by blindness of our inner eyes due to evil power and light of Jesus Christ empowered thru His victory over death was able to open our inner eyes and be saved by seeing and following Christ’s footsteps. Thru baptism with water and Holy Spirit we become member of “Christ Club”, a part of His body, the Church. The world definitely be peaceful as long everybody believe Him and follow His command. There would be no hunger; wealth would be evenly distributed thru generosity by remembering God’s gift to free our conscience from devil’s power. Merry Christmas to all.

  18. Joyce Ann Edmondson says:

    It seems to be a woman’s role to be belittled, put in her place, misunderstood and discounted. Why at Christmas? But then again, wasn’t Mary thought to have been put down by Christ by so many, when actually he was just praising her for doing the will of God (all of her life) and saying that if we do his will, we are ALSO his mothers and brothers (and sisters)?

    Oh, ye of little faith!

  19. Donna Maree says:

    Every morning I send out messages about hope and light. Every one of the recipients knows to whom I refer – God of gods, Light of light. And I receive messages daily that they try to treat every person they meet as if God is shining back at them. I am sad that most of these commentators do not know this light. Thank you Bishop for your light among us.

  20. Canon Don Muller says:

    I know it’s for the Episcopal Church, but somewhere the name “Jesus” or “Christ” could be mentioned.

  21. May Winters says:

    I find it fascinating that so many of the comments focus on the lack of the name Jesus. I am an Episcopalian. I changed from Catholicism to the Episcopal faith several years ago. There is a freedom here to have a view that differs from that of your leaders. I believe Jesus should have been mentioned also. However, I have the deepest love and respect for some of the most inclusive and justice oriented leaders and pastors in my church. My Aunt, who was a Catholic nun and a very devote follower of God, supported my decision to make this change of churches. Why is it so frightening that Jesus came for us all? Why isn’t it okay for people to get there when they do, and why is it that we think we have all the answers. None of us have all the answers. Katharine Jefferts Schori is a wonderful presiding bishop who will be retiring soon. A little respect for her would be appreciated.
    God Bless.

  22. Joyce Ann Edmondson says:

    “Discover the love of God poured into our world in human form,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says in her Christmas Message 2012.

    By Ron Kruger (from his book: A Higher Good)

    “The concept of a Higher Good I experienced is alluded to in all the religions of the world. If you investigate them without prejudice, you find a basic ideal of brotherhood, or “love your neighbor as yourself” within their scriptures.

    Here are a few examples:
    “Hurt not others in that which you would find hurtful.”
    “As you wish that men would do unto you, do so to them.”
    “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.”
    -Baha’i faith
    “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”
    “That which is hateful unto you, do not impose on others.”
    “As thou demist thyself, so deem others.”
    “Regard your neighbor’s gains as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as yours. Taoism
    “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”
    “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.”
    “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.”

    “Seems quite odd to me, however, that the gods many religions describe within their scriptures are incapable of this basic principle..” Yes, it does, Ron. Faith is a gift from God, but how we live accordingly is up to us with His grace to help us.

    During the Advent season, I give thanks to those who live according to what they believe and give the example to others.

  23. Charles Sacquety says:

    I was inspired.

  24. Anthony Christiansen says:

    I’m also a former Catholic who is grateful to have become a member of The Episcopal Church. Just one of the things I am grateful for is this Church’s stand of inclusivity. It is a Church of the Good News, not of the bad news –which it seems that some of the negativistic detractors here wish to embrace and advance. I’m grateful for a living relationship with the “the light that is born in our midst” and for a Presiding Bishop who gives witness to that light. A Blessed Christmas to all!

  25. David M. Frost says:

    Now-now-now-now-now-now-now, gentlemen; temper, temper, temper, temper! Obviously, all this was originally meant to be just a tiny part of a much larger ceremony, a Midnight Mass, say, where Lord Christ was going to get mentioned plenty of other times already, and smart speakers don’t want to come across as one note. I very briefly met Mother Schori when she was here for the Ordination of Bishop Young the June before last here in Knoxville, and I found her piety, powers, and legitimacy to be well beyond even the most sarcastic questioning. And I’ll cheerfully take her Charismas of Healing over the far more Grim Ministrations of, say, Benedict Second-to-Last-Supergrinch-Ever (who I suspect is the real motor behind most of the comments here), and his Forbidden Mystical Spray Can of Mercedes-Benz Color Code #048 (actually originally intended for Steve Jobs and wealthy Arabs, it turns out mostly), and his Dark Disciplinary Notes telling every Catholic in the world to basically just go jump off a cliff somewhere tomorrow – as a big fan of the Pre-trib Rapture, hardly the eventual Sleigh Ride that I’m looking forward to someday!

    Anyway, Merry, uh, Happy Holidays! (=_=)

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