My dear brothers and sisters, from the bottom of my heart I wish for you a wonder-filled Christmas and a joyous New Year. As I look at our world today, I think we are missing a few important things. First, where is the goodwill? There are so many challenges big and small that we all have to deal with every day. Why would anyone want to make things harder for their sister or brother? Goodwill is to will the good for one and all. What does this cost us? What do we lose by such action? My prayer at this Christmastime is that we might be filled to overflowing with goodwill for all our sisters and brothers.
Second, where is the hope? Is our hope in government, or economics, or military power? Is our hope in education, innovation or science? Is our hope in technology, medicine or social media? No, our hope is in the Lord, Jesus Christ, born once more into a broken and hopeless world. We, who spend so much time living in the darkness of anxiety, suspicion, and distrust, can walk in the light of forgiveness, compassion, and justice. We are a people of hope, and can be a beacon of hope to the world.
Third, where is the mercy? Mercy is more than being kind or letting someone get away with something they shouldn’t. Mercy is a conscious decision not to abuse power, not to ignore privilege, and not to take for granted that everyone enjoys the same blessings we receive. Mercy is about equity, fairness, generosity and justice. Mercy means we do not consider others as less important, or deserving as ourselves, but that we will use what we have been given to bless others.
Fourth, where is the love? How am I loving God more? How do I show this love? How do I witness love to others? What am I teaching by the way I love, or in the ways I don’t love? Many people define “Christian” by how they see people of the Christian faith treat each other. The outward and visible sign of our love for God is how we love our neighbor, and how we love ourselves.
Christmas is the coming of the Christ! This is the good news, indeed. You and me, we are made new by the birth of our Savior. Through the gift of Christ, we come to celebrate the gift of each other. I truly celebrate all you beautiful people in this Wisconsin Conference. By your faith, by your love, by your openness to receive and share God’s grace, we become the body of Christ together. Thanks be to God for this precious gift. And thanks also for the coming gift of the new year. Let it be a time for unity, vision, and a renewed commitment to faithfully do God’s will. Thanks be to God!
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
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).