Beloved in Christ,
I am so pleased to bring you greetings as we celebrate this holy season. One of the most important Christmas greetings can be found in the Gospel of Saint Luke. It is given by the angel to the shepherds who were watching over their flocks by night. “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10) This greeting helped to relieve the initial fear of the shepherds when the quiet solitude of a seemingly ordinary night was shattered as heaven touched the earth. When the shepherds went to the manger and saw Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, they were transformed from men of fear to men of faith. They became messengers of good news as they returned, “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2:20)
There are many things around us that can cause us to fear and at times we may be tempted to be discouraged. At these times we should look to the shepherds as our model as we go to the Lord so that we can see and believe. What will we see? We will see the very presence of God all around us. We will see goodness and truth. This is what I see as I travel around our Diocese and I am so grateful for the honor and privilege of being your Bishop. There is so much goodness in this Diocese and it begins with each one of you who are so faithful. The clergy and laity of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints are a light shining in a world which is sometimes a very dark place.
At Christmas we celebrate as we receive by faith God’s greatest gift: His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Gift giving is a significant part of our Christmas tradition. Let us never forget that the greatest gifts are not those wrapped in paper. The greatest gifts are those persons, family and friends who stand with us each day representing Christ who is the light of the world.
Thank you for being such a wonderful gift and for being a powerful light of hope for the world. The Lord is with us and may He continue to bless us with His peace and joy.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas I remain,
Faithfully Yours in the Service of Christ and His Church,
The Rt. Rev. William H. Ilgenfritz
Missionary Diocese of All Saints
Anglican Church in North America