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Bishop's Message

A Pastoral Letter and Christmas Message from Bishop Love

 

Christmas 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Christmas season is supposed to be a very special and holy time during which family and friends throughout the world come together to celebrate the birth of God's Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - "Emmanuel" (God with us), the "Prince of Peace," the "Lord of Lords and King of Kings." Tragically, however, for untold numbers in and around Newtown, Connecticut, as well as throughout the nation and world, this Christmas will be a time of great sadness, where families, friends and neighbors come together to comfort one another, mourning the horrific and senseless death of 20 innocent young school children and eight adults, including the very troubled young man who committed the murders. As the father of two children that I dearly love, and the husband of a school teacher that I love and hope to spend the rest of my life with, I can only imagine what the parents and families of all those who died in Newtown are going through.

This Christmas will also be particularly hard for hundreds of thousands of others in New York, New Jersey and other areas along the East Coast as they continue to try to deal with the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy, mourning the lives of over 100 people killed in the storm and the challenge of starting all over amidst the destruction of tens of thousands of homes and businesses. While not making the national and international news, hundreds if not thousands of others throughout the world (some in our own communities) will also die this Christmas season, leaving behind family and friends who will miss them dearly. Some will pass away peacefully at home from old age, but many will be the victims of illness, accidents, acts of nature, acts of violence, war, starvation, poverty, neglect, and broken hearts.

At a time when there is such sadness, tragedy, loss, and need, one could rightfully ask, where is the "MERRY" in Christmas, or the "PEACE & JOY" that traditionally are associated with Christmas? If Jesus is "Emmanuel" (God with us), where is He? If He is the "Prince of Peace" why has He allowed such atrocities to occur? If He is "Lord of Lords and King of Kings" why doesn't He do something to stop this madness and terrible suffering?

While there are no easy answers to these or the countless other questions that could be asked when faced with such insanity and tragic loss and unbearable grief, I believe the answers can, in fact, be found in the very Feast Day we are now preparing to celebrate - the birth of our Lord. It was on that very first Christmas some 2000 years ago that the Angel of the Lord announced to a group of shepherds a message to be shared with all generations throughout the world: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:10-12). Doing as the Angel of the Lord commanded, the shepherds went and found the baby Jesus just as they had been told. As they gazed down upon the tiny infant before them, they looked into the very face of God. In that moment, had the baby Jesus not been constrained by the limitations of a new born infant (as He freely chose to be), He might have greeted them with this message:

My dear children, you look down and see an innocent little baby lying before you, for that is what I am, but I am also God, the very one who created you, the one in whose "image" and "likeness" you were formed (Genesis 1:26). Out of Our immeasurable love and compassion for you, My Father and the Holy Spirit and I decided that I must come and live among you, taking your flesh upon myself through my mother, the Virgin Mary, just as was reported by the Angel Gabriel when he spoke to her saying, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High' (Luke 1:31-32). It will be written of Me, 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth' (John 1:1,14).

I know the things I am telling you seem impossible and, in fact, many people will refuse to believe, but trust Me. What I am telling you is true, for 'I am the Truth' (John 14:6). 'I Am who I Am' (Exodus 3:14). I am the One Isaiah and the Prophets of old spoke of: 'For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon His shoulders; and He is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace' (Isaiah 9:6).

Over the next 33 years I will grow and mature in my human nature just as you, with the exception that I will never succumb to Satan and the powers of evil in this world and commit sin. Out of my total and unconditional love and obedience to My Father, I will not betray Him, for He and I are One. As I live amongst you and teach you and minister to you these next 33 years, healing the sick of all illness and disease, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, cleansing the leapers, healing the lame and crippled, casting out demons, forgiving sins, feeding the hungry, calming storms and other miraculous signs of God that you can't even imagine, to include raising the dead, I will reveal the true power, nature, love and will of God in ways that only I can make known for 'I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me...The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work' (John 14:10).

My dear children, as I look through the expanse of time, my heart is deeply grieved as I see the evil, brokenness and chaos that have come upon the world. When Adam and Eve disobeyed my Father in the Garden of Eden and ate of the forbidden fruit, misusing and abusing their gift of 'free will,' EVERYTHING changed. Sin and death entered into the world, creating a barrier between God and His people, threatening Creation itself. The more people turn away and rebel against God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the further they slip into darkness and the greater the atrocities and sufferings of the world.

My heart breaks as I see the slaughter of innocent children. I feel the pain and agony of those who suffer with illness and disease. I weep with those who mourn the death of loved ones. I know what it is like to be caught in a storm and threatened by the wind and waves. I know what it is to have no home or any place to lay my head. I know the tremendous hurt and sorrow of being betrayed and abandoned, the pain and frustration of being misunderstood and hated. I know what it is to be stripped of my clothing and dignity and spat upon. I know the horrors of war and the pain and agony of being attacked and beaten mercilessly. I have and will experience the cruelty and inhumanity of man at its very worst, being nailed to a cross to die. I know the immeasurable burden and sacrifice of carrying all the sins of the entire world upon Myself and the sheer agony and sense of helplessness of being separated from the Father, crying out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mark 15:34). I know what it is to die a painful and unjust death.

My dear Children, even though I know all these things and the price I will pay on the Cross - in obedience to my Heavenly Father, I have chosen to humble Myself and come and be with you, being born this day of the Virgin Mary. I love you more than you can possibly know. And despite the many times that you and the people of this world will turn and sin against Me, I love you so much that I have chosen to offer myself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world - for your sins and the sins of all people. I have chosen to die for you and all people in order that the power of sin and death that enslaves the world may be destroyed. And as a sign of My victory over sin and death, on the third day, I will rise to new life.

My dear Children, I invite you and all who will believe and trust in me, accepting me as Lord and Savior of your life, to share in My new resurrected life. You will be adopted by God the Father and become members of My Body and inheritors of My eternal Heavenly Kingdom. And even though I will ascend back into Heaven following My death and resurrection, to sit at the right hand of the Father until I come again to judge the living and dead, I promise never to abandon you. 'I am with you always, to the very end of the age' (Matthew 28:20). Just as My Father has promised, I will send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to come and live within you - guiding and leading you as you continue on your faith journey, giving you strength and courage in the difficult and frightening times, comforting you in the sad and sorrowful times, giving you peace and joy even in the midst of the chaos of this life.

My dear Children, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matthew 4:17), but it has not yet fully arrived. Satan and the powers of evil will remain in the world for a time longer, doing great harm. People will turn against themselves and one another, committing great atrocities: 'Brothers will betray brothers to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents...All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:21-22). Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places...There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now. False Christs and false prophets will appear (Matthew 24:7, 21).

My dear Children, there will be times in your life and faith journey where you and your loved ones will be treated unjustly and will experience great sorrow and loss - having some of the people and things dearest to you taken away. It will seem like your whole life has been turned upside down and that you have been plunged into the 'dark night of the soul,' where you feel abandoned in the desert all alone - crying out why? What have I done? Why is this happening? How can a loving God allow such things to occur? Where are You Lord? Do You even exist?

My dear Children, I hear all of your prayers and know and share both the joys and sorrows of your heart. I know the burdens you carry. While it may seem at times that I have abandoned you, I have not, nor will I. There will be things that you cannot fully understand in this life as you go through them, but know that even the most horrendous and tragic events in life can be transformed through the power of My love. Invite Me into your sorrows and pain, your struggles and questions. Invite me into the very depths of your soul in order that My healing light might shine forth, driving out all darkness. Let me lift the burdens you now carry and wipe away every tear from your eyes. For the day will come when 'there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away. I am making everything new! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end' (Revelation 21:4-6).

Dear Friends, the message of Christmas is the message of God's love - His total, unconditional, all-sacrificial love. Let us be open to that love and share it joyfully with one another. There is no greater gift we can receive or give this Christmas than the love of God as so perfectly revealed through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray an abundance of God's love for each of you my brothers and sisters and upon all those in Newtown, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and throughout the world who are struggling to find the "MERRY" in Christmas and the "PEACE" & JOY" Christ Jesus brings into the hearts of His people.

In Christ's Love,

+Bill

 

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