Bishop’s Christmas Message 2019

Greetings in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

The season of Advent has passed, and Christmas is here. During Advent we have been waiting prayerfully for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ anew into our hearts and lives. Now it is time for us to rejoice in celebrating His birth. For Christians, every Sunday is a “Little Easter” where we celebrate Jesus’ precious death and resurrection, which redeemed us from our sins and separation from God. But Christmas helps us to remember the equally astounding fact that in order to fufil His mission of redemption, the Son of God first humbled Himself to take on our human nature (Phil. 2:6-7). He did not come to earth with lightning, thunder and heavenly armies, but as a little child.

In Luke chapter 2, an angel of the Lord announces the birth of Jesus to a group of shepherds before being joined by a great company of angels praising God. We are familiar with the words of the angels, for we say them each time we celebrate the Holy Communion: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.” This short sentence is full of meaning and power for us.

The angelic declaration begins with the words, “Glory to God in the highest.” Just like the angels, we must always start by praising God and glorifying His name for the wondrous things He has done. The angels then go on to proclaim, “Peace to His people on earth.” By doing so they are making it clear that the birth of Jesus brings peace. We often think of peace as an absence of war or strife in the world, but the peace Jesus brings is, first of all, reconciliation between God and humanity. In Isaiah, the Messiah is called the “Prince of Peace” (9:6), and the meaning of this is explained in Isaiah 53:5: “But [the Messiah] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” True peace between human beings begins with the peace in our hearts that only God can give us through His mercy, forgiveness and love.

However, once we receive this gift of heavenly peace, we are to share it with others rather than keep it to ourselves. Our spiritual father Abraham was blessed to be a blessing to “all peoples on earth” (Gen. 12:3). Likewise, we in the Church are called to be agents of peace, for our Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt. 5:9). There is much disunity and discord in our world today, including in our nation of Malaysia. Let us as Christians work to bring about peace and unity in our societies which are fractured by divisions of race, religion, political ideology, and so on. If we do so, I believe our Lord’s words will be fulfilled, and we “will be called children of God” (Matt 5:9).

I will conclude with this benediction from the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (13:20-21) Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.