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Bishop's Christmas Message

We need to pay more attention to angels!

By Bishop Larry Silva
December 25, 2016

We need to pay more attention to angels!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:14)  That was their message to the shepherds that first Christmas night, and if we are attentive, it is their message to all of us as well.

In so many ways we have forgotten God, taken him out of our schools and our civic life, and relegated him to a role as our servant to comfort us when we need something.  In so many ways we have made ourselves gods, thinking that each one of us makes all the ultimate decisions regarding when life will begin and end, or what we deem to be the truth, based on little more than our subjective preferences.  There will be no peace on earth until we lift our eyes to the heavens and give glory to God in the highest.  He is the giver of all truth, the one who knows us intimately and loves us.  God is the one who challenges us to look beyond ourselves and to trust that we need not be gods ourselves to be completely happy.  Sometimes he challenges forcefully, with a loud voice and wrath, and sometimes very gently touching our hearts with compassion and mercy.  To give glory to God is not only for the sake of God, but allows us to share his glory here on earth.  To worship God is our duty and our salvation.  If we listen to the angels who still sing this song, there will be peace on earth, the peace for which we long.

But our eyes cannot only be raised to heaven.  They must also look down at the suffering here on earth:  the homeless, the imprisoned, the addicted, the lonely, the oppressed.  We need to notice here on earth what God is calling us to do to bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, and healing to all who are sick in body or spirit.  Bandaging wounds and finding the root cause of injuries is not such a glorious task.  It demands considerable sacrifice of our time, talents and resources to alleviate the sufferings of others.  We will not always be appreciated for our good deeds.  We will be tired and weary in serving others when there are so many pressing needs to address down here on earth so that there can be peace among us.

We may at times feel stretched or pulled between the heights of worship and the depths of human need.  But we celebrate and rejoice, because God has bridged the gap between heaven and earth; wedded the divine and the human, by sending us his own Son, Jesus.  We celebrate his birth with great joy, because Jesus, himself fully divine and fully human, is the Truth who helps us understand that giving “glory to God in the highest” and living “peace on earth” is no longer a stretch or a task that keeps our heads bobbing up and down.  It is one and the same, because all in heaven and on earth are met in this dear Savior who came to be God-with-us and who gave his life for us.

The shepherds listened to the angels and went to adore the newborn King, and when they returned they told the good news to all.  We, too, are called to be shepherds, listening for angel voices that call us to give glory to God in the highest, and to live peace on earth.  We, too, are the shepherds who continue to tell the good news!

May the little Lamb of God bless you as a shepherd to whom he entrusts giving glory to God and establishing peace on earth by being one with him, with Jesus, our Savior and Lord!  And may you always listen to the angels and make them sing again and again, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”