Christmas Message 2017
From: The Rt. Rev'd. Laish Z. Boyd, Sr.,
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas And The Turks and Caicos Islands


      Hark the herald angels sing...
      Peace on earth and mercy mild,...
      Light and life to all He brings,
      Ris'n with healing in His wings.
As I move around in the Diocese and outside, from time to time I meet persons who profess to be atheists. They are fine and upstanding people in many ways, sharing many of the same values and principles that you and I do - save and except for the fact that they do not believe that there is a God.

This does not threaten or diminish our faith in God. However, honest and realistic Christians in this age must recognize that there are many belief systems out there held to by some very nice people: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Folk and New Age Religions, Agnosticism and Atheism.

On this landscape, you and I must know, practise, understand, study, discuss, share and give an account for what we believe - if our belief is to mean anything to us, and if it is to have any chance of convincing others.

Believing in God or not believing in God is a VERY complex issue. People struggle with faith, and with their faith, all the time. We cannot prove the existence and importance of God to the atheist, to the agnostic or to anyone else by science, logic or persuasion. Similarly, the atheist, the agnostic or any other person cannot prove the opposite to us by those means.

Faith is a mysterious, personal conviction that happens deep within a person. It is a candle that burns, or that goes out, inside each of us. This is why it is so important to plant the seeds of faith in our children from an early age, and to share it with others generally, to show all that faith is important. It is equally vital to cherish, nurture and practice our personal faith, to show by our lives and our priorities that God is important. Let us also encourage others in their faith.

This brings us to Christmas where we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world as a human son of an earthly family.

The details of the story are well-known and retold every year. The significance of Christmas is that Jesus came as a baby, a symbol of the unlimited possibility that God was introducing. A baby represents new hope, infinite potential and the promise that everything will be alright. This is what a baby brings to a person and to a family: when a baby is born, it is a chance to start over with a clean slate and renewed commitment. There is endless joy and many dreams and plans.

In light of whatever others believe and, certainly, in light of what we believe, now is a perfect time to talk about the story which defines our faith as Christians: Jesus, whom we believe to be the Messiah, was born in a cattleshed at Bethlehem.

The birth of Jesus challenges us in what we believe. It challenges us to acknowledge what Jesus came into the world to do: to bring the Divine down to the human so that the human condition can reach its full potential for good, for peace, for transformation and for healing.

This God calls us from our limited view of who God is to an expanded view - a view of a God who goes everywhere, talks to everyone and touches every human condition, dwells in every possible situation, breaks down every barrier, resolves every separation and heals every wound - BY HIS SHEER LOVE for us. This God bursts into our lives with the force of a hurricane or a tornado and shatters our pride, arrogance, selfishness, hatred and inherited prejudice. He calls us to a new way.

Thomas Merton in his book "Raids on the Unspeakable," wrote:
      "Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet He must be in it, His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst."
The heart of the Christian gospel is that God so loved that He gave his Son to come into the world and to show us what love is. No single person has had the impact on the human race that Jesus has had.

The baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem is a chance for us to look at what we believe, why we believe it, to turn away from self-centeredness, and to refocus on innocent priorities and first principles...like the parent who welcomes a new baby, and plans to build his/her lives around it.

The baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem is a chance for us to look at what we believe, why we believe it, to turn away from self-centeredness, and to refocus on innocent priorities and first principles...like the parent who welcomes a new baby, and plans to build his/her live around it.

The Incarnation, Jesus becoming human, is about the fire of God - life detonating inside each of us. Jesus the babe of Bethlehem, carried this fire and He shares it with us all.

Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century mystic and visionary, tells us these words that Jesus said to her about who He is. These are words which WE should say as persons on fire for the infant King:
      I am the fiery life of the essence of God. I am the flame above the beauty of the fields. I shine in the waters. I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.
The "fiery life," the flame that shines, and burns,, has to be seen in the way that we live, or else the gospel is meaningless.

This Christmas, give the baby Jesus the best opportunity in your life and create an environment in which He can grow and reach the full potential that He has for your life. Refocus on those basic truths He came to highlight, and go back to your first principles and core values. Allow the baby Jesus and what He came to bring to invigorate your faith and to bear fruit in your life - so that someone may see it and be inspired in their faith journey.

Remember that the message of the gospel and the peace He came to bring is only as real as the way that you and I live it. It is as real as you and I SHARE it by our living.

My family joins me in wishing you and your families a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Yours in Christ,


from
The Rt. Rev'd. Laish Boyd
BISHOP OF THE BAHAMAS AND
THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS