Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bishop's Note: The Collects - First Sunday of Christmas

Bishop Eric Menees

This Sunday we celebrate the First Sunday of Christmas and open our service with this collect:

Almighty God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word: Grant that the same light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Merry Christmas!  What beautiful words and what a blessed and holy celebration we had as we began a new Church season on Tuesday evening at the Midnight Mass - the Season of Christmas. This is the shortest season of the Church year at just twelve days, but what beautiful days they are - dedicated not only to the memory of Jesus' birth but the reality of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, in our lives today.
That is the theological principle that Archbishop Cranmer was putting forth in today's collect. I love the imagery used here: God in his glory, pouring down his light in his Son Jesus - the Incarnate Word.  When received, this light will shine like a beacon in the darkness. We, his adopted children, are called to shine forth that light to those who are lost and alone.

This week I saw a beautiful example of that, when our office assistant, (and soon to be new administrator) Corey McLaughlin, met with a group of homeless people who were making a camp in the bushes at the Cathedral. Corey met with them, offered prayer, respectfully set limits with them, and encouraged them on their way. This was an example of love, respect, and Christian charity. In other words, he shared the light of Christ with them as it shone through his actions.

In the Diocese of San Joaquin, we see this happen in a thousand ways day in and day out - with parishioners, the sick, those who are lost in sin, and those who have lost their way. When members of a congregation reach out to the elderly and the lonely, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, we are living out what the collect calls us to do as Christmas people.

Note: The "Notes to the church" articles are written by Bishop Menees for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I have posted them on Soundings with his permission for a wider audience. This is also the case for his "Why I am an Anglican" series. Dale+   

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