A Christmas Message from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
“See, your salvation comes” (Isaiah 62:11).
The great prophets before Jesus proclaimed a vision of a nation and a people redeemed. We continue to share that yearning – as the Christmas hymn puts it, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” We’ve seen abundant hopes spring up in the past year across the Arab world and Eastern Europe, and in the global Occupy movement. Those voices seek a world of greater justice, communities in which decisions and the gifts of creation are more available to all. Our understanding of salvation is most profoundly about justice in community, and as Christians we believe that help and healing for all are grounded in the incarnate presence of God – among us and within us.
We look for salvation to the one who came among us in the most humble way, a helpless child born in a scandalous way to a poor peasant couple. The Incarnation, God with us, changed the world in ways that we insist are leading to the ultimate healing of all creation. “See, your salvation comes,” says the prophet in every age, yet it is not yet fully come upon us. We live in hope for its fullness. May hope be nourished within us, in each and every human being and community, for the journey toward God’s healed and holy future.
That proclamation of coming salvation is a part of Isaiah (Isa 62:6-12) that will be read in some congregations at Christmas, but if you don’t hear it, go and read the whole of it. Its centerpiece speaks of what that salvation looks like:
The Lord has sworn ... I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies,That is not a vision of pristine isolation, but a vision of comfort and healing to a people frequently at war, occupied, or exploited by superior forces. The fear of powerful others taking and using for themselves the produce of the poor is healed and transformed into a society in which the gifts God provides will be shared by all. For when salvation comes, that society will be called,
and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have labored;
but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in my holy courts.
‘the Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord’; and you shall be called, ‘Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken’
Jesus comes among us to remind us of a world living together in peace, to reclaim and make real that vision of creation for all humanity and all God’s creatures. That world is put right as relationships between God and humanity are set right. The relationship between God and human being cannot be set right without equal healing of relationships between us mortals. See, your salvation comes! Will we welcome that healing?
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate The Episcopal Church
Above relief: “Romano d’Ezzelino” by Roberto Frison