December 14, 2021
Beloved colleagues and companions in Christ,
The devastation delivered by this past weekend’s tornadoes, especially in our neighboring Kentucky, reminds us of how fragile are even those things we consider most stable: our homes and neighborhoods, our health and security, our faith and confidence in God. As a young priest, I served in Louisville a decade after the 1974 tornadoes that destroyed properties and lives. Even those years later, I had parishioners who continued to suffer the practical, emotional, and spiritual effects of that profoundly destabilizing experience.
At times like these, we long for the incarnate God, the one who reassures us with hope and restores our sense of order. In the Incarnation, we are reminded that God comes to us in person, literally, in the person of Jesus: human, immediate, responsive to our deepest needs. In the Incarnation we are reminded as well that God continues to come to us in person, literally, in the Body of Christ: in one another, God’s church, the community of believers.
We are the heart and hands of the living God, reaching out to the brokenness of the world God loves. We are what God offers to those left homeless by tornadoes or war or poverty, to those whose lives have been torn apart by weather or illness or loss, to those for whom some essential stability has disappeared. It is we who can witness to them that God is indeed Emmanuel – God with us, God with them – no matter how devastating their circumstances may be. Into the instabilities and injustices of real life comes God, in the person of Jesus and in the persons of his followers, you and me, to bring companionship, support, healing, and love.
As we prepare for the birth of Christ anew in ourselves and in the world, I invite and encourage each of us to be the gift of God’s incarnate love by making a gift to Episcopal Relief and Development. On behalf of all of us in the Diocese of Ohio, we have sent $5000 earmarked for US Disaster Relief, which directly assists tornado relief in the Diocese of Kentucky. As well, I have made a personal contribution, and urge you to consider doing the same.
Be a gift by making a gift. It is what God expects of us as the incarnation of divine love, ourselves.
With every blessing of Advent and Christmas, the seasons of expectation and incarnation,
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio