Christmas brings us together

12/19/2016

A Christmas message from Bishop R. Lawson Bryan

Throughout the South Georgia Conference I have been lifting up the vision found in Ephesians 1:9-10: “God has made known to us his hidden purpose … that the universe, all in heaven and on earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.” What a huge insight! While there are many things we cannot know, we can know God’s purpose. God’s purpose is to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ. 

Once we recognize God’s purpose we can start noticing how consistently God works to fulfill that purpose. In the birth of Jesus, for instance, we see God uniting those who otherwise never would have known each other. In addition to Mary and Joseph, Luke tells us of the shepherds who were working the night shift. Matthew adds the Wise Men – Gentiles who come from another culture and seemingly have little in common with either the Holy Family or the shepherds. Christmas brought them together across social and cultural boundaries. Today, 2,000 years later, Christmas still brings us together. God intends it that way. 

The diversity within the manger scene testifies to the unity that God makes possible through Christ. What better way to bring people together than to give them a baby to hold? The sheer vulnerability of a young life helps us all get in touch with our capacity to provide care, protection, and nurture. William Sloane Coffin, former pastor of Riverside Church in New York, said it this way: “I think at Christmas God comes to us as a child so that we can finally grow up.” 

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus let us challenge ourselves and our church families to grow up and grow together in Christ.  Thanks to each of you for the many ways you are reaching across boundaries to bless the lives of others through acts of generosity and compassion.

In the name of Jesus we can grow up; we can reach beyond dividing walls of hostility so that Christ becomes our peace; we can call the world to join the new humanity Christ makes possible. For that purpose we have been made Alive Together in Christ.

Sherrill and I thank God for our wonderful South Georgia Conference family. And we wish you a blessed and meaningful Christmas!

R. Lawson Bryan