“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2: 8)
As I write this Christmas message, I feel very much like one of those shepherds who long ago kept watch during the night for their flock of sheep, making sure that no harm befell them. I and the wardens at St. James, along with every church leadership team throughout this Diocese, are in the midst of making the difficult decision of whether to receive people into the building for long-awaited Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. Some churches have already switched to the online format only, in an attempt to exercise an abundance of caution and keep people safe as the Omicron variant sweeps through the GTA. In the midst of all this vigilant watching and thinking and praying, I have found myself asking God if I might please experience the kind of heavenly visitation that the shepherds experienced on that most Holy Night. What a treat it would be to suddenly have angels about me singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” I think we could all do with some sort of spiritual boost right now. A special deep sense of the splendor of Emmanuel – God with us; along with the peace and joy surely such an experience would bring! Well my friends, I have good news. I am a “shepherd of the resurrection!” We are all resurrection people. The promise of God’s presence has been fulfilled through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our faith allows us say “yes” to God’s Holy Spirit. “Yes” to the indwelling presence of the Divine. Therefore, I am reminding myself and all of you that there is a constant heavenly visitation deep within all of us. As we are faced once again with the task of making decisions on how to best care for ourselves, our neighbours, and our loved ones, let us remember that God is indeed with us…not just on Sundays – not just in the church building. God is with us even on the lonely hillside – in our living rooms; in the car; when we lie down to sleep; in our loneliness; in our illness; our grief. God is with us.
May you sense this Holy Presence this Christmas season. Michelle+