Scripture Luke 2: 10-12
"Do not be afraid. I will bring the good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah."
In this season of Advent, I join with you in the waiting, longing again to see the birth of Jesus Christ. These last few months since arriving in Wisconsin, I have been busy with many events, including joyful visits to 50 plus churches and communities in Wisconsin. As your new bishop, I have felt the love and anticipation among United Methodists who truly desire to love and serve their neighbors and to experience the joy of sharing in mission and ministry in our world.
Now, in the season of Advent, I join you in the desire to slow down in order to catch again a glimpse of the wonder and signs of God's mystery in this hope- filled season. Let us stop quietly in the presence of our Savior's birth. Let us pause to see Jesus and adore him with the mind of a child. Let us offer our utmost joyful songs with deep seated peace as we reflect again on our Savior's birth. Let us ponder again the Good News that will cause us and all people great joy--God's incarnated love for us all.
I hear the angels say to me and to all of us, "Do not be afraid" even though:
- Wars, conflicts, disasters, and tribulations continue and we are sometimes disheartened by news of fear and disease around the world.
- We still experience destruction and violence in our communities.
We believe the Christ Child brings peace and joy for all. And so we live peacefully, and pray for peace and joy for our world.
In these lasts few months, I have heard the witnesses among us sharing their powerful transforming stories. God is working among us! I have also heard many witnesses among us who have experienced disappointment and times of fear for their future.
Remember the words of the angel. "Do not be afraid." Just as Joseph and Mary received the word that God was with them, even in fearful times, so we also know the truth of that for each of us and our congregations. God will give us the courage that we need to reach out to new people, diverse people, young people, old people, all people with the message of God's love.
As God anticipated the willingness of Mary and Joseph to receive the gift of Jesus, God's glad tidings are offered to us in the anticipation that we will open ourselves and extend our welcoming hearts to the people of our communities and world.
So, we are not afraid. We wait not in fear, but with great anticipation to find Jesus again in our hearts, and through our lives and the work of the Holy Spirit, in the world.
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).