Beloved in Christ,
 
Today we celebrate the birth of our Savior, King of kings and Lord of lords. For many of us, this Christmas will feel very different from others we have known. We will not be gathering in our beautiful churches to sing our favorite carols but will content ourselves with online celebrations, singing along to the beautiful music we know so well. Many of us will be missing the family and friends we normally share this day with, and a few of us will be mourning loved ones who have been lost to the pandemic or to other causes this year. All of us will likely be looking forward to emerging from a difficult year and will be praying for better days in 2021.
 
Yet the truth of Christmas is that Jesus was not born into a world of warmth, family gatherings, and brightly lit celebrations. Jesus was born into a world of challenge and difficulty. He was laid in a manger in a town far away from home, brought there by the whim of a faraway emperor who had little concern for the health of his small family. His birth was attended not by a family celebration, but by shepherds, among the least respected people in his world. God came to a people in trouble and poverty, a people who had little power to affect the rulers of their world. Jesus knows our troubles because he has lived them.
 
By his birth into a troubled world, Jesus filled the world with God’s love, cracked open the border between heaven and earth, and made our redemption possible. God’s love shined light in the world where Jesus was born. As the gospel of John tells us, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. And if this year doesn’t feel like the usual Christmas to us, maybe that’s because we’ve never needed Christmas so much as we do this troubled year.
 
So let us celebrate the birth of a Savior who knows our troubles and our worries, because he has experienced them himself. Celebrate God’s love that comes to us anew each day. And join me in praying that 2021 will bring an end to the pandemic, the economic suffering, the racial injustice, and all the other troubles that confront us.
 
In thanksgiving for the birth of Jesus, let us pray the collect for Christmas Day:
 
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Merry Christmas,

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Susan Brown Snook
The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego
2083 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., San Diego, CA 92107