Assistant's Addendum . . .
by Father Kenneth G. Davis
(from January 2001 Tidings)
Happy New Year again. The new year 2001 is upon us. On the Sunday closest to November
30, St. Andrew's Day, we began a new Christian Year.
The Christian Year is important for us as Episcopalians to contemplate, for it provides
us with sufficient opportunity to reflect upon the life of Jesus Christ and our
relationship to Him as our personal Lord and Savior; important for us if we are to accept
seriously our baptismal covenant and live by its promises.
The Catechism of the Church defines the church as "the body of which Jesus Christ
is head, and all baptized persons are members". It is important for us to remember
that the church is a living organism, it is people, not just a church building. It lives,
it moves, and it has special being for as to personalize, to relate to, to claim, yes, and
to accept as "mine". The opposite of this might be that we are ineffective,
immovable, sterile, and dead.
Our beloved assistant bishop in Michigan, the late William Gordon, was emphatic when he
said we must "re-present" Jesus Christ to a naughty and hurting world, not to
simply represent Jesus to others. Our life in Jesus Christ is not stagnant, but alive and
ever-vital. He must be seen in us for others to see and desire to emulate. We find in the
December cycle of the Church Year, not only the Nativity of Jesus, the Son of the Living
God, but we remember in thanksgiving, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, one of the
first apostles of Jesus, and one of the inner circle of those close to Jesus,
along with James and Peter. He was present at the Transfiguration. the raising of Jairus's
daughter, and the healing of the mother-in-law of St. Peter. It is said of St. John that
Jesus loved him. Personal relationships.
A favorite saint, known as the inspiration for Santa Claus, is Nicholas, bishop of
Myra, who died in 342 A. D. It is said that he was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325
A. D. when our Nicene Creed was formulated. Legends of him abound: one tells of many
miracles, but the one greatest of all tells of a gift of three bags given to three girls
who had no dowries to support themselves. From this story, we have the tradition of
wrapped gifts given at Christmas time, celebrated at the second season of the Church Year,
a period of 12 days commemorating the birth of Jesus and the visiting of the Jewish people
to the child Jesus. It is God's desire that this spirit of Christmas abound throughout the
The feast of the Epiphany, January 6, will soon be upon us. This signifies that Jesus
now belongs to the entire world, Jews AND Gentiles. This is commemorated by the visitation
of the Magi from the East. Jesus comes to all, that no one should perish but all might
have eternal life. I can claim Him as "my Lord and Savior".
The Church moves on, honoring men and women of every age in history, who have
demonstrated the promise of the returning Lord to a waiting world. William Laud, born in
1573, became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. He taught that the church is a direct
continuity with the Body of Christ. He emphasized the importance of the priesthood and the
sacramental nature of the Church For his stand to keep the church as the Body of Christ,
he was condemned to death and beheaded on January 10, 1645.
The late Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893, was a man with the spirit of
adventure, in thought, life, and faith. He is known as the author of the famous carol,
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM. Though
he did not die for his faith, as did William Laud, he demonstrated his faith by becoming
one of the greatest preachers of the 19th
Century, witnessing in a different way to his faith in Jesus, for he ministered
with tenderness, understanding, and warm friendliness, reminding us of the mysterious
richness of human nature and the nearness of God to each of us.
One of my favorite hymns says: I SING A
SONG OF THE SAINTS OF GOD, and the verse ends, and I mean to be one
too. We all have the opportunity to witness to our faith in Christ. Some are called
upon to lose their life, others may become fools for Christ's sake. We are all
called upon to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Men and women, even at this moment,
are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. While I was in both India and China, I was
urged to tell the American people that these people are not free to worship OPENLY in the
Name of Jesus Christ.
And so, the church lives on, for the church is you and me. SOME of us will be called
upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, but WE are all called upon to bear witness to our
faith, the love of God, and of His Christ, under the power of the Holy Spirit. His
greatest gift came to us with great sacrifice. Do we stand for Christ, or do we stand for
nothing? That is a question each must answer. Wise men are still following the Star!
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
May there be room in your manger-heart to receive the Christ child.
Faithfully, your fellow companion,
KENNETH G. DAVIS