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Advent / Christmas letter from the Bishop-elect

Advent / Christmas letter from the Bishop-elect 

sarah macneil 1

Grafton Bishop Elect Sarah Macneil

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God incarnate among us, my thoughts and prayers are very much with you. Although we have not yet arrived in the Diocese and I have not commenced my ministry among you, I have gratefully received many messages of welcome and the diary for 2014 is starting to fill up.

But these Advent weeks of waiting call us to turn our attention away from the busyness of the everyday and to focus on the miraculous gift God has given us in Jesus, born as one of us. This tiny baby, from the wrong part of Palestine, born into a humble family, has shown us the depth of God’s love for us.

Jesus’ birth is the beginning of a life like no other, a life with extraordinary consequences, a life that challenged, overturned convention and was, for many, exquisitely uncomfortable. Too often the stories of Jesus’ birth are separated from the rest of his life, and lose this dimension in our consciousness.

We can choose to stay simply in the story of his birth and see in that tiny baby the love and vulnerability with which God meets us, the depth of the relationship God seeks with humanity. But we can also go much further and meet the adult Jesus, the Jesus whose teaching challenged the status quo, who refused to treat some people as outcasts, who came to bring abundant life to the whole of creation. We can gather around the table in the upper room, the night before he was crucified and share the bread and the wine of the Passover meal, forever re-framed as his body and his blood. We can share the pain and confusion of the cross, the joy and astonishment of the resurrection.

The Christmas story opens out into all of this. It is a door through which we can enter the deep truth of God’s love and redemptive action in the world. We can hang around in the doorway, admiring its beauty, or we can walk through and open ourselves to new life as the fullness of Christ is born in us.

Through this Advent and the Christmas season, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sarah

 

The Anglican Church of Australia