Anglican Orthodox Church
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING BISHOP
PO Box 128
Statesville, N.C. 28687
Phone: (704)873-8365 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 25, 2020Anno Domini – Bishop’s Christmas Letter
The season of love and peace comes with unbroken regularity year after year, and we are blessed by the warmth of the Spirit that overflows from the Fountains of Heaven to the vessels of the hearts of men. But why does this Spirit of Love and Good Tidings not resound like a bronze clarion throughout the entire year – and the ages to come? The Angel said: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version) The purpose of our Lord’s coming was not to bring a spirit of fear, but of great Joy to all people and, particularly, those who believe.
There are two important Bible passages that set the stage for the Lord’s coming: Isaiah 9:2 “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined;” and, Matthew 4:16 “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” There were four centuries of silence and darkness during the interceding years from the utterance of the last Old Testament prophet (Malachi) until the coming of John the Baptist to prepare the Way for the coming of the Lord.
The discerning eye will note the slight change in meaning of the two passages above – in the first, the people walked in darkness and perhaps, according to Old Testament Law, believed they could manage without the light, so they WALKED in darkness. But, in the second passage from Matthew, the people grew weary of the smothering darkness and, instead, SAT DOWN therein. There has been a dark cloud of moral darkness that has filled the skies of our American Republic in the recent decades. All manner of sin and evil has been labeled GOOD while righteous values are ridiculed: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! . . . . 23Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:20-21, 23).
Hungering for the Light of Life (for there can exist no life without the benefit of Light) the weary world rejoiced at the coming of that Light of Love and Truth at the first Christmas. That night in the Judean hill country was cold and still – the sky pristine and purple, punctuated by brilliant stars as is typical of that high desert climate. There was no room for Christ in the bustling fanfare of little Bethlehem in the same sense that there is little room for Christ in the cold, dark hearts of modern man.
But there was a stable! – a stable filled with the kindly beasts of the field who were the first to be honored to witness the coming of the only Begotten Son of God. Mary, weary from her long journey and wracked with the pain of child birth, was yet patient and tender toward her husband, Joseph, who made the stable as comfortable as possible for the young virgin whom he loved above every other creature. So there, among the softly lowing cattle and little lambs who pranced about in excitement of the event, was born the Lamb of God. He was, and is, the Light of the World. No longer need we sit in darkness, for Light has come into the world. He who began His creation of the world and Universe in utter darkness, and ended in the brilliant Light of Day, was now brought low to us. “We beheld Him as the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace!” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
May that same Spirit of Light, Grace, and Truth pervade the hearts of men beginning this Christmas Season and grow into a mountain thereof throughout the coming ages. May the Holy Spirit of God once more hover over the deep of America, and the world beyond, and speak the beautiful words: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, 3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Genesis 1:1-3)
Merry Christmas now and FOREVER!
POSTNOTE: Remember too, that lower light who went to be with the Lord on Christmas Day 1990, our beloved founding Bishop, James Parker Dees.
In Christ Alone during Christmas,
Jerry L. Ogles, D. D.
JERRY L. OGLES, D.D.
The Anglican Orthodox Church