Reconnect with the holy

A group of kids and youth practice lighting an Advent wreath.
Young people at St. Olave, Swansea in Toronto practice lighting the first candle of the Advent wreath at the church. A candle will be lit each week during Advent, followed by the lighting of the middle candle on Christmas Eve. Advent begins on Dec. 3.
 on November 29, 2023
Michael Hudson

Christmas message

“Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” As a member of the central committee of the World Council of Churches, and our Canadian Anglican representative, I am pleased that the theme this decade is inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:14, in which our faith as followers of Christ is called into action. In responding to this call to be the hands and feet of Christ, we give each other the gifts of becoming more fully human together. From the beautiful opening of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word,” we are invited to call to mind that in God there was unity before all differences. Jesus’ interactions with people cross social, racial and gender borders, constantly reminding us that there is no centre, no margin, no “us and them” in the Jesus movement.

In our survey work for Cast the Net, the diocese’s visioning process, we have learned that the three key interests of the generation coming up involve the climate crisis, inclusion and diversity, and reconciliation with our Indigenous siblings.

In our work to reconnect with all that is holy, can we let this climate crisis break our hearts? How can we feel the truth and face the grief together in our pews, in solidarity with our children and our children’s children, those who are made vulnerable because of our choices and the choices of our parents and our parents’ parents? We live and move and have our being here. This planet’s health determines our very existence, so how can we make a choice to support our Mother Earth with our dollars and our words this Christmas? Can we dare to stare down complicity, compliance and convenience, to step forward in faith and hope?

Let this be a Christmas present to you from Jesus: “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). The real presence of Christ is not just in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, but in the least, the lost, the lonely, and in me, in you, in each of us. How can we transform our Church into a Church of service? A Church with a theology of abundance and a passionate, enthusiastic heart for serving all in our communities? We believe that God has given us all we need (2 Peter 1:3), so how can we learn to see what is in front of our eyes, the good gifts and mercies that lavishly flow down upon us? How can we learn to see that the people we exclude are our very selves?

The implications of inclusion are very real in the life of our community. When we engage with the joys and hopes of people from all walks of life who are living in our neighbourhoods and communities, we physically show our sincere faith in the presence of Christ in everyone. Can we listen with the ears of our hearts to the anxieties, pain and suffering of our children, who desperately want us to name and to own our benefitting, participation and co-responsibility in the chain of history, including critical climate damage, exclusion, power-grabbing and ignorance? If yes, then we are helping our Creator to build the new world.

Such a life-bringing goal! We can participate in the healing of the nations when we reject the impoverished versions of order that keep our current flawed structures in place, when we humble ourselves to really hear the truth and invest the time and energy in relationships that work for justice. Then and only then can we begin to do reconciliation. And it isn’t our own voices to which we need to listen; if we authentically want to engage in change, we have to check our own privilege at the proverbial door and deeply listen, participate in dialogue and mutual conversation.

We see each other through our affection for one another, and through our curiosity. When we respond to the existential concerns of those whom we love, a small step at a time, we build communities of hope together. It takes courage and wisdom to have the gentleness of spirit to see with new eyes that which is right in front of us; to see, know and believe that we are each and all a sacred part of creation. Be brave! “Our imagination of God shapes how we act in the world.” A word of truth from author Jeremy Duncan.

If we trust that God has given us everything we need, then how can we not be the hands and feet of Christ in this time and in this place, serving one another? Serving the planet, made in the image of God, who is crying out for a revolution of love and justice?

This Christmas, let’s give our money, attention and priority to these big three: climate crisis, reconciliation and inclusion.

God is good!


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