A Christmas Message from Bishop Fisher
Christmas is complicated. Christmas is complicated because we attach so much to it. It is like the Christmas tree in the Fisher family. Sure, we have angels and religious ornaments. But we also have an ornament from every place we have ever gone on vacation – Saranac Lake, Wisconsin, Chicago, the Outer Banks, San Francisco, London and on and on. Then there are the “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments – all of which are over 20 years old now. And all the ones from the kids’ activities – basketball players, Irish step dancers, baseball players, soccer balls and boy scouts (which my son was in for about twenty minutes in 1997) And yes, we have more than a few ornaments celebrating a certain team from the Bronx with an interlocking “NY”. And then there are the ornaments made out of family pictures – the kids sitting with Santa and Betsy and I in front of the tree in Rockefeller Center, when we were first married, and I had the world’s worst mustache – which the kids make fun of every time they hang it on the tree.
The Christmas tree has all this stuff on it that seems to have nothing to do with Christmas. But isn’t Christmas itself that way? It isn’t just the story of what happened to Jesus. We bring to this season our stories. Christmas Eve is probably the most emotional night of the year. Some bring joyful stories. Others are grieving loved ones who died. Some have had relationships begin. Some have had relationships end. Some come with inner peace and some with inner conflict. Some come with new physical difficulties. We come to this time with memories that make our spirits soar – and memories that make us want to cry. And we come together at a time when our country is more divided that it has been in many years. Jesus is born into a world without peace so as to bring peace. In a world such as ours with 23 million refugees, Jesus comes to us as a refugee.
Christmas is complicated. The good news of Christmas is that God wants to be part of it all. God who comes to us in the form of a vulnerable baby does so that God might be present to us in all life’s many dimensions. Not just when we have it all together. Not when there is peace throughout the earth. God comes to us in a vulnerable baby so we know God is with us in our vulnerability.
No feeling you have in this season is too trivial for God. Nor is it too big for God’s healing, merciful power.
Over 2000 years ago, God who was present from the beginning, came to us in a person so we might fall in love. We can’t fall in love with the “idea” of God. But we can fall in love with a person. Fall in love with God’s human expression of mercy, compassion and hope. Fall in love with our God who is committed to us no matter. Fall in love with our God who is present to us in every situation.
Let’s bring our complexity, our emotions, and our real lives to Christmas. And let us meet Jesus – the Christ – here. And let him be reborn in us.
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher
IX Bishop of Western Massachusetts
Watch the video here.