Patriarhi jõululäkitus 2009

Patriarch’s Christmas Message



So much has been said about Christmas and the Nativity Story. Every time I stop to reflect on it, teach on it, or preach about it I am almost at a loss as to where to begin. All of us get caught into the profound mystery of the Incarnation, or the inspiring story of the humble obedience of Mary and Joseph. We are caught up on the simplicity of the story of a baby born in a manager among cattle and sheep surrounded by shepherds. It captures the minds and hearts of believers, and non-believers alike.

As for the past 24 years, this Christmas I will stand at the altar at the Cathedral Church of the Intercessor. During the Eucharist I will hold each of you dear in my heart. I will recall all the visits to the various congregations, convocations, and conferences. As you gather on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day you will be mystically connected to all of your brothers and sisters around the world. This is truth because “the Word has become flesh and dwells among us.” And, it is Christ who is the source of our unity. We have been seated with Him in the heavenly realms.

We are also united by our service to world in the Name of Jesus. I daily pray for each you. I pray for the men and women who have given of time, talent, and treasure to those around them. I pray for the relief efforts in the Philippines, where thousands are still homeless or dying from diseases as a result of the typhoon earlier this year. I pray for our brothers and sisters in Africa who daily teach young HIV/AID orphans and supply relief to families. I pray for those in the United States who are giving out food to the poor or offering counsel to those seeking freedom from drugs and alcohol. I pray for those who are offering alternatives to abortion, or counseling those who are suffering as a result of their decision to have an abortion. I pray for those who daily evangelize on the streets, or through movements like Cursillo and Marriage Encounter. I pray for those who faithfully work in shelters, food banks, or soup kitchens. And, I pray for the hundreds upon hundreds of men and women who serve the Church in Sunday Schools, Day Schools, Altar Guilds, Youth Groups, Choirs, and Bands. I pray for all the faithful who do all of this because they are loved by and love the child born in a manager who is now seated on His throne in glory.

The Charismatic Episcopal Church was in the beginning a “worship movement”. We continue to believe a Patristic expression of worship that is fully evangelical, fully charismatic, and fully sacramental/liturgical. We believe that the life and theology of the Church has always flowed from correct worship. When we gather in Eucharistic Worship we are empowered to go forth into the world with the message of God’s reconciling love, in both words and actions.

The Nativity story tells us that from the very beginning God identifies with the poor. It is in the humble beginnings of the manager that the Gospel is first proclaimed. So even today when we celebrate the Eucharist, be it in the splendor of a Gothic Cathedral or in a rented store front, the Church identifies with the poor – whether material poverty or spiritual poverty. The Church is compelled by the love of Christ to offer itself in service to the poor.

I pray that someday there will be a visible unity of the Church that is centered in Eucharistic worship. And, as much as I believe it is a ways off, there is no reason what so ever that we should not seek that unity with our brothers and sisters in Anglicanism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Roman Catholicism, and the Churches of Eastern Orthodoxy. We all hold Christ Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life; and the one and only one through whom mankind can find redemption. Yet, our differences are real and much more needs to occur before we will see this visible unity.

Where we can see a visible unity is when we reach out to the poor. I am moved spiritually each year as Christians gather in Washington, D.C. to pray for an end to abortion. There are no denominational differences as we pray and march. We are one voice speaking for those who have no voice. And daily that voice is becoming stronger and stronger particularly among our young people. There is no denominationalism when we dig wells, or supply famine relief, or medical care. There is no denominationalism as we lead people to a new life in Christ and a release of the Holy Spirit. Here we can walk together as we identify with the poor.

At the end of January this year and the first week of February, I will participate in three significant events. As I have mentioned I will be in Washington, D.C. to march along with hundreds of thousands of Christians. I will gather one evening with our young people from across the United States for our annual Laudate for Life gathering. Over the years it has not only grown in numbers, but also in commitment. We now have young people who have grown up in the CEC, but also as members of Laudate for Life. Some of these young men and women are now bringing their children to the March for Life.

Then I will gather at a resort in Pennsylvania with hundreds of Evangelical, Charismatic, and Pentecostal Pastors for three days of prayer for revival, reformation, and reconciliation. This is the largest gathering of cross-cultural, cross-denominational and cross ethnic pastors in America. All these Pastors serve in the New York City metropolitan area. For three days, in unity, we will seek God and cry out for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a city that has been called the capital of the world.

Then finally I will travel to Orlando, Florida for the Patriarch’s Council. This meeting, which is centered on our daily celebration of the Eucharist, will address the future of our Church around the world. The agenda will be filled with concerns and issues. But for three days we will experience the blessed unity the Lord has granted to us. We will hear the glorious reports of our Church and its growth numerically and spiritually.

All three of these events reflect the joy of Christmas, and the truth that Christ is still with us working through us, and brining to completion the good work He has begun in us. It is still evidence that Christ is born in the hearts of men and women of faith.

I pray that however, or wherever you celebrate the Feast of the Nativity and the Twelve Days of Christmas that you will be blessed and your eyes open to His presence in the Eucharist and in the poor. You will be in my prayers and my heart as I lift up His body and blood on that holy evening.

May Christ Jesus be given all the glory.

Under His mercy,
+Craig, Patriarch

1 kommentaar postitusele “Patriarhi jõululäkitus 2009”

  1. juhan ütleb:

    Jahh..nii see on. Meie sakramentaalsetele kristlastele on Armulaua Karika tähtsus saanud nii oluliseks, et selle sees peituv elujõud ja “valgus” kiirgab täna isegi veel tugevamini kui täht mis juhtis Kolm tarka sõime juurde.