Dear Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Western New York:
In a new Advent curriculum based on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s “Way of Love” initiative, the first week in Advent is dedicated to “Saying Yes to the Journey.” I am struck by just how right this way of thinking about Advent is, especially here in our diocese right now.
Just as Mary said yes to the angel Gabriel in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we Christians are called to say yes to the life of faith, even when-especially when-it leads us into an unknown future. As the curriculum says, “We may not know the implications of saying yes just as surely as Mary did not know. We can never be fully prepared for the magnificent journey with Jesus. It is sure to transform our lives.”
As we begin the new church year, I am keenly aware that we are embarking on the Advent journey together for the last time. This season of waiting and watching for the Christ child is also our own season of transition, as I look toward my retirement in April, and you look toward a new journey with Bishop Sean Rowe in partnership with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. We will all be transformed by the journey with Jesus that begins this Advent, and the quiet confidence and calm that I sense across the diocese indicates to me that we are ready to travel this last part of our road together, bound by the web of grace. Together, we have said yes.
In the coming weeks, there will be time to reflect more fully on our life together during Advent and Christmas, and also to look ahead to Epiphany and then to Lent, when we will say goodbye. But for now, as Advent begins, my prayer for each of you is that you will find the courage to say yes to all of the journeys to which God is calling you, both now and all through the year.
Yours in Christ,
+R. William Franklin