An Advent Message from Bishop Maas

Another week in Advent, another candle lit; another flicker of light against the growing darkness of each winter day. I don’t know how your experience of Advent is going this year, but I’m finding it meaningful in new and enriching ways.

I’m also newly aware of how much the role we share as ministry leaders has its own Advent-like qualities. Each of you tends the flame of Advent, bearing light into darkness and calling people to hope.

Well into this second year of pandemic, you may well feel that your personal candle is about burned out—and no one could blame you. Not only the darkness of the pandemic but the gloomy shadow of conflict and division that’s grown in its wake have all taken their toll—have been a nearly physical presence striving to extinguish any light that dares to hold them at bay.

Yet that is what you’ve consistently done and continue to do. In this year as much as any in my memory, our world is shrouded by uncertainty, despair, doubt, anger…the list stretches long. Into the darkness of all of that, you are called to bear witness to the Light of the World, to be yourself a faint glimmer of that Light, holding back the darkness and inspiring others to let their light shine as well.

That light is of course the Light of Christ, and it is the light of hope. Just as we light one Advent candle after another in anticipation and hope of the Christ-child’s birth and the Living Christ’s return, so your ministry shines as a sometimes solitary light in a shadowy time. You needn’t blaze like a torch—it’s enough in the darkness to merely flicker as a candle’s wick. Any light can be seen, and give hope, and inspire others to let their flames, whether meager or fierce, shine with yours to push back the darkness.

It’s been a long dark slog, and it’s far from over. Yet you faithfully burn, aglow with faith in the Word you proclaim. You announce the coming of Christ into each day, each moment, and give others the courage to hope that this darkness too, like so many before it, will pass.

I give thanks to God for you. In days of dark and cold, your ministry glimmers with light and warmth. In you, I see the Gospel take flesh; in you, I see the Light of the World shine into darkness; in you, I see reason to hope. For all of that, I commend your faithfulness and I give thanks for you and your ministry.

May God shine brightly into your world this Advent and Christmas season, and bless you with light and life, with hope and joy.