Bishop Franklin’s 2017 Christmas Message

Many families, including my own, are in the process of setting up our Nativity scenes.  The center of most Nativity scenes is the baby in the manger.

I find the figure of the baby in the manger particularly meaningful this Christmas because my own family has our own baby, my granddaughter, Rey.  She isn’t lying in a manger, but she is lying in a crib and a baby carrier.  I am sure that my experience is similar to that of most new grandfathers.  I have found myself falling completely in love with Rey.  She has brought a joy and a light and a hope to my life that I have never known before.

That is the message of Christmas as well.  The baby in the manger brings to each one of us, and to the whole world, joy and light and hope that we have never known before.

Christmas is a time when we have the opportunity to share that joy and light and hope with people who we don’t reach very often.  Christmas is a time when people come to church who don’t often join our congregations for worship.  I believe that the message of the baby in the manger draws them as much as the music and the ritual.  People seek joy and light and hope and believe that they may find it in our Christmas Eve services.

Of course we cannot stop with the baby in the manger.  The baby in the manger is also the Christ of the cross and the one who will bring the kingdom of God when he comes again.

The baby in the manger calls each of us to bring the presence of God to every corner of our lives.  The baby in the manger calls each of us to bring the presence of God to each person that we meet.  The baby in the manger calls each of us to live every minute and every part of our lives as if we are standing in the presence of God, because, in fact, we are.

That is what it means that we call the baby in the manger “Emmanuel” – “God with us”.  God is not only with us to comfort us or to make us feel safe.  God is with us to remind us of our ministry, our job, to bring the love and the presence of God to everyone we meet in every way we can.

That is the message of Christmas.  Christ has come.  God is with us.

The message of the baby in the manger is the same as the message of Christ on the cross.  God is with us and has brought joy and light and hope to each one of us and to the whole world.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas.

Bishop Franklin