As 2018 comes to a close, it is natural to reflect on the past year. Our church, our diocese and each of us have been challenged this year. As we face the shameful record of the past and work toward healing, know that your continued prayers, steadfast commitment to your faith and support is a source of great strength for your pastors, fellow parishioners and for me. With our past now made known, we have an opportunity to start anew this Christmas.

As I write this letter, I am reminded of a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew, which says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Mt. 1:22-23). I find great comfort in this verse, as it serves as a reminder that even in these most challenging times, the Lord is walking beside each of us, holding each of us in His grace.

The peace and comfort that comes from our Lord are some of His many gifts to us, His children. As we grow closer to celebrating the Christmas Mystery, we prepare ourselves to receive anew the greatest gift we could possibly receive — the Son of God come in our flesh. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). Our Lord gave us his most precious gift. What love that must be. That same love is holding all of us close.

Christmas Day will come and go quickly, but the Lord’s gift to us is never ending. This Christmas season, let us make the time to start fresh and renew our commitment to serving our Lord and Savior. What better gift could we give to Him this Christmas than ourselves?

May our homes and hearts overflow with the richest blessings as we celebrate the Savior’s birth and abiding presence with us in the Church. Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.

Your Brother in Christ,

Bishop Ronald Gainer

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