Bishop Mariann Budde of the Diocese of Washington writes in a post dated Dec. 20:
Yesterday, I shared lunch with survivors of an apartment fire in Southeast Washington, D.C. They had lost everything, and were now living apart from one another across the city. Thanks to the hospitality of four of our D.C. South congregations, they were reunited for the first time. Despite all they had endured, and are enduring still, many of their faces reflected a quiet joy. So, too, did those working to offer a bit of kindness to strangers. What better way to celebrate the gift of Christmas?
The Scriptures speak of being filled with joy, or of joy breaking forth, descending upon those who live in darkness or fear. “Do not be afraid,” the angels to frightened shepherds in a field, “for I bring you good news of great joy.” That is the hope, and promise, of Christmas.
To be sure, I wish happiness for those I love this Christmas. As your bishop, I wish happiness for you. But this may or not be a happy Christmas for any of us, depending on circumstances beyond our control, and so my deeper prayer is for all to experience something of joy this Christmas, and for us to share in God’s work of bringing joy to others.
I daresay that most people reading these words are hard at work now, striving to make Christmas an occasion of both happiness and joy for others. Thank you, for all you are and do. May you, especially, receive the gift of joy God has for you. Remember that joy can come in the happiest of times or in the loneliest hour. Joy comes in happiness or sorrow, calm or chaos—it doesn’t matter. For it is God’s doing, God coming to us as we are, in the world as it is, with an assurance of deep meaning and the promise of joy.