“At that time, the sons of Israel walked away from that place, every man to his tribe and his family. And they went out from there, every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel. A man did what was right according to his own vision.” (Judges 21:24-25)
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His Name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
NATIVITY OF THE LORD 2016
To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the West
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
The haunting last verses of the Book of Judges sum up the state of creation. All went to their own tribes; all went to their own inheritances. There was no king in Israel, because they had forgotten the only King they had ever known. So every person did what was right according to his own vision. Paradise was gone. The inheritance promised to Abraham and his descendants was no more real to them than a lottery jackpot is to us.
But God did not abandon His creation or His people. For a Child is born, a Son is given, and the government was placed upon the shoulders of the King who came to reclaim what was His from before time began. In the quiet of a cave, surrounded only by animals and shepherds, the One who is without beginning begins to be. The One who cannot be contained comes forth from the Virgin’s womb, which is more spacious than the heavens. And the only Gift the world has ever needed has been given.
Our lives today very much can resemble the time of the Judges. We often run to our own tribes and inheritances. We often live for the world and its allures and seductions. We often live as if we have forgotten the King who desires nothing except to love and care for us, leading us to His Kingdom. We certainly often do what we think is right according to our own vision.
This glorious Day dawns with the reality that the Gift who is the new-born Savior has been given freely to all of us. The vision that we use to walk has been filled with the Divine Light, taking away all of our darkness. Our entrance into the cave with the shepherds and animals, all of us with the angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will to men,” unites us to Him and unites earth and heaven.
But while the Gift is freely given, it must also be freely accepted. In order to walk in the Light, we have to open our eyes so they might be filled. We must not do what we think is right according to our own vision. And we must lovingly embrace the Child who has come to be what we are in all of our frailty and brokenness so that we might be made whole again and become like Him. I invite each of you to join me and come to the Cave.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
In the new-born Child,
Archbishop of San Francisco and the West