Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Another year has come and gone, and we find ourselves navigating the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas. Recently, our Diocesan Center staff gathered for our annual Advent Mass and Christmas Lunch. A favorite activity during the lunch is singing Christmas Carols, especially the 12 Days of Christmas. Each table takes on one of the days and is encouraged to be creative in how they portray that day. Along with many traditions in our families, we had to forgo our singing again this year.
This will be our second Christmas during COVID and perhaps some are not feeling very merry this year. As I reflect back on all that we have faced over this past year, and the previous years, I am reminded of this line from the carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen: “Let nothing you dismay, for Jesus Christ our Savior was born upon this Day.” This carol, originally found in an anonymous manuscript in the 1650s, is an English melody that was recorded by James Nares in the mid-18th century. This carol was used by Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol.” While this carol does relay the story of Christmas, it also has an underlying message. We are told not to be dismayed but to have comfort and joy. This seems like an appropriate message given all that we have faced in 2021. However, this type of comfort is not that of a warm blanket and a hot cup of cider, but more a message to take heart and to be filled with hope. This is the message we hear in this carol, that we not be dismayed, but have comfort and take hope, in the knowledge that Christ our Savor has come.
As we celebrate our Lord’s Nativity, let us have joy and take comfort in knowing and proclaiming that our God is with us; He is Christ, our Savior. He is with us, redeeming us, loving us, setting us free to receive the gift of His own Life. Our joy should be the characteristic that most defines us as disciples of Christ.
In our world so hungry for good news, so needful of comfort and joy, may we as individuals, as married couples, as families and as a Church not be dismayed but remember that Christ is our Savior at Christmas and always. That is the Good News that brings genuine comfort and joy.
With prayers, warm wishes and the pledge to remember you in my Masses throughout the Christmas Season, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer
Bishop of Harrisburg