A Christmas Message from Bishop Fairley

December 24, 2017

                      How Long, O Lord!
The darkness seems so pervasive, and with each passing day its overwhelming weight presses down on a desperately weeping world.  "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15). Voices silenced by the evil of senseless violence where even the sanctuary of worship is no longer sacred or safe space. The darkness seems so pervasive.  "We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now." (Romans 8:22-30). The resilient capacity of the human spirit appears to be waning in the ferocity of each storm. Not just nature's hurricanes, but other storms with familiar names: evil, racism, poverty, opioid epidemic, war, and storms riding on the winds of sexual harassment victims weeping from forgotten places. Pain hidden beneath scabs that refuse to heal, longing for a light that will bring healing. The cry for healing goes on and on.
The church itself is locked in its own war over human sexuality - our focus, our calling, our mission lost inside darkness, consumed by what should never be.  "How long, O Lord?" The question marks become the exclamation points of victory over the forces of sin, evil, and death when out of darkness comes the long-awaited piercing cry of a child of light, the Word becoming flesh. "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6). "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5).
Will we hear his cry?  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace." (United Methodist Hymn #349, Helen H. Lemme).  In his light will we find the courage and the strength to let go of the petty squabbles that push us ever deeper into the darkness?  "How long, O Lord?" The cries become increasingly louder and hauntingly agonizing in their frequency until words become inadequate.  Even responses like, "Pray for the victims and their families (fill in the blank from any breaking news cycle)," or even the catchy Facebook profiles and witty verbiage are inadequate.
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget (us) me forever?  How long will you hide your face from (us) me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long." (Psalm 13:1-2). Lord, not long, for "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him (Jesus) Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us.'"(Matthew 1:23).
                A Million Voices
It is the price God pays, a million voices chaos
Is a million hells crying out for light enough to melt
Darkness away. "Come thou long-expected Jesus."

A million voices longing for meaning before journey's end. 
What, when, why, how long? Voices searching,
Hoping, "Come, thou long-expected Jesus."
A million voices shouting through faces filled with
Countless tears, weeping deeper than any words
Can articulate. God, do you hear. "Come, thou long-expected Jesus."
"Jesus wept."  A million voices- "My God, My God,
Why have you forsaken me?"  Jesus weeps the universal "Why?" 
"Born thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King."
A million voices knowing nowhere else to turn, no other
Ears to listen, no others heart, keeping silent until the
Answer comes.  "Come, thou long-expected Jesus."
A million voices, God's aching heart, breaking into
A million pieces crying into the dark night of a million
Souls. "Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to thee."
                                                                               By Leonard Fairley
Come, Lord Jesus come!
Bishop Leonard Fairley
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