From: The Rt. Rev'd. Laish Z. Boyd, Sr.,
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas And The Turks and Caicos Islands
Peace on earth and mercy mild,...
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris'n with healing in His wings.
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:
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:
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,
The Rt. Rev'd. Laish Boyd
BISHOP OF THE BAHAMAS AND
THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS