Bishop Scanlan Writes...
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
~ Luke 2:15
Rise up shepherds, and follow.
~ Traditional African-American spiritual
In the past three months, as I have begun my work in our diocese, I have developed a growing appreciation for the vastness of our geographic region and the expanse of this commonwealth in which we form the Episcopal expression of the Body of Christ in Central Pennsylvania. Each week I travel to a new place to pray, preach and worship with one of our congregations and to hear stories of faithfulness and devotion to our Lord. Each week, my eyes are opened a little wider, my understanding of the gifts and the challenges of our Church is deepened, and each week, I find Christ alive and well in places like Jersey Shore, Bedford, Renovo, and Mount Carmel. My short experience has confirmed that the light of Christ is alive in this place- these places- and that no matter where my GPS directs me, my heart will be filled. I feel a little bit like the shepherds, discovering each Sunday morning, a little Bethlehem of my own, as I travel here and there in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.
How sorely our world needs Jesus. Events in our recent past-internationally, nationally, and as close to home as the city centers of Harrisburg, Lancaster, York and Williamsport have demonstrated that the sins of violence and terror are committed daily, resulting in loss of life, loss of security and growing anxiety and fear. How sorely we need Jesus.
If Advent is the season of hope, then Christmas becomes the season of deliverance. My prayer is that in the arrival of the babe, born in a manger, we will know peace-the peace of God. My prayer is for an end to violence, the vanquishing of terror and freedom from fear. It is a tall order for a tiny babe, but I see it at work, already, each week, as I make my way ‘round. May the joy of this Christmastide reveal the power of Christ within you and your communities and fill you with peace. May we recognize that each of our parishes is, indeed, a little Bethlehem, filled with the potential and grace of God.
And let us rejoice.
Wishing you a blessed and holy Christmas,
P.S. Find a weekly reflection from the bishop on her blog, Compass Points~ Mapping the Way. New posts arrive every Friday morning. The blog can also be accessed through the diocesan website. Look for the button that’s labeled “Bishop’s blog.”