A Christmas Message from the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely
Greetings from Rock Point as we bring the season of Advent to a close and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I am mindful that this season carries with it a mixture of joy and other emotions for many of us. For me, the yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus is a reminder of the deep love God has for each of us and for the world. And, that amidst all the ups and downs of our lives, this one truth remains – we are loved by God. Jesus lived and died among us to bring that Good News to life – in the flesh – so that we might know what it looks like and embrace it as the model for our life and living.
For me, the gift of that first Christmas life has been especially palpable this year, as our family welcomed the birth of my third granddaughter, Madelyn, born just a few short weeks ago, to my youngest daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer was born on Christmas Eve 36 years ago, my first Christmas as a Priest.
Our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, says that to be part of the Jesus Movement is to be part of the loving, liberating and life-giving way, or dream of God for the world, that often seems a nightmare to so many, perhaps even to you at times. It is the birth of that movement that we celebrate at Christmas. Born into a violent world under occupation, Jesus lived a life of self-offering, reconciling, servant love. None of us can live that life as fully and perfectly as he did and yet it remains the core of our baptismal commitment to do so as best we can, and with God’s help. The Episcopal Church in Vermont is committed to full participation in a mission oriented way of being part of this Jesus Movement, and it is my great joy and privilege to serve as your bishop.
As we look back over the past year and ahead to the next, I take great delight in several things. Chief among them is the priority we have named and are claiming for local congregations to articulate and implement local mission approaches as part of our participation in God’s reconciling mission in our neighborhoods and communities. Many have begun this work, while some are just getting started. What I am seeing are some exciting opportunities for us, like efforts around housing in Montpelier and deeper community and regional connections in Newport and other parts of the Northeast Kingdom.
I am also buoyed by the commitment of so many to honoring the dignity of all human beings, indeed all creation. This is manifest in our ministries of economic, environmental, social and racial justice. As we engage political changes at the state and federal levels, our commitment to this witness is as important as ever.
I am further encouraged by the support we are receiving for the Rock Point Partnership Campaign, as we seek to raise significant money to sustain and enhance the ministries of Rock Point and assure its future as the treasure it is for the Episcopal Church in Vermont as well as the wider community. The heritage and legacy of this resource, of which we have been faithful stewards for over 160 years, matters deeply to me and I hope to you, as well. The year 2017 will see this effort continue and broaden to include more direct local congregational involvement. In the meantime, I encourage you to come visit Rock Point and acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with this very special place and its many ministries. To find out more, visit the Rock Point website at www.rockpointvt.org
Finally, Saint Luke writes about how the glad news of a great joy was communicated that first Christmas to the shepherds and beyond. Our work of communicating the Good News of Jesus and God’s abiding love for all is an important part of our life as the Episcopal Church in Vermont. Our new Communications Minister, Maurice Harris, is helping us strengthen and expand that witness, so please do all you can to join in the telling of the Good News of Jesus Christ as we “Go tell it on the Mountain, over the hills and everywhere.”
A blessed Christmas to one and all.