This is Bishop Carlye Hughes of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, and I want to talk with you about being one of God’s messengers during Advent and Christmas, especially during this time.
At this time of year we hear a number of scriptural readings that talk with us about the angelic presence – those special messengers that come from God to encourage people – they usually say, “Fear not,” but they come to encourage people in scripture to do something that looks hard or overwhelming or intimidating.
And there’s other messengers – they are God’s people, right alongside, threaded through all of those stories about angelic presence – God’s ordinary people that are also messengers to other of God’s people. That’s the kind of messenger I think all of us can be.
We have a tendency to get worried about what’s the right word, will I know the right thing to say, will I be in the right place at the right time, who am I to be a messenger. But what’s so interesting to me about those messengers in scripture, all of those ordinary people – people like Ruth, people like Noah, people like John the Baptist, people like Joseph and Mary – all those stories that we hear about, all of them were simply being themselves. That when they showed up as themselves – people who were worried about something, people who were afraid, people who were angry or people who were very sad – when they showed up being exactly who they were, they were also faithful in the midst of all of their circumstances, and they were able to bring a message of hope even though they had things going on themselves and others had the same stresses happening to them.
That’s probably one of the biggest and best gifts that we have to share with others during this season: our ability to be ourselves. To be a messenger of hope, to be a messenger of love, to be a messenger of God’s care, of faithfulness with all of those around us.
Now some of us may actually have an angelic presence show up for us during this holiday season, but I am guessing that most of us, through Advent and all the way through Christmas, are going to need each other. We’re going to need each other to be a messenger, a messenger of God’s love. And it might be the best gift we can give, and the best gift we can receive.