From the Bishop

The Heart of Christmas

December 21, 2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

During this past Advent season, the church gave herself to remember and reflect on the ministry and place of John the Baptist in the unfolding Gospel story, as she has done for centuries. There are many things unique to John the Baptist, but in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 29, John the Baptist is the first to identify publicly, prophetically, and for history, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

In the morning offices of Advent, we have been in the book of Revelation, and this past week in Revelation 5:6, we read that there is “a Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” The Lamb is enthroned, standing at the right hand of God, and in his writing, Archbishop Michael Ramsey described the throne as “denoting sovereignty, and the Lamb denoting sacrifice. It is hidden within this unique self-offering, now revealed as lying at the heart of the world’s existence, because it is at the heart of God’s own existence as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

We receive the Gospel message of God’s self-giving, His sacrifice of love as the solution to the brokenness of the world and for all those who receive Christ as Savior and follow him as Lord.  The sacrificial heart of God becomes the heart of his people, and as Christ is formed in our hearts, we grow in that self-giving Christ-likeness. Advent and Christmas allow us the time to remember and reflect on the great gift of God’s sacrificial love for us in Christ.

We have had such a great year as a diocese; our mission is just beginning. One of the asks we make annually is for a Christmas offering for the ADNE, but this year we want to consider another step beyond the typical one-time holiday donation.

We, the leaders of the ADNE, know that if each of our households made a commitment to a monthly offering of $25, we would collectively surpass the largest churches of our diocese in yearly giving.  Our worshipping members average between 1500 and 2000 people per week. We want to begin a specific campaign to raise this awareness for all our people. Each one of our households can do $25; many can do more. If we set up a simple monthly deduction/contribution from our pay check or accounts, we could see our individual giving reach $30,000 or more per month, which would be the largest monthly donation in our diocese. We can make a very big difference with a simple disciplined act of regular offerings beyond the tithe to the local church. Our donation page will give you the mechanisms to set up regular contributions of set amounts.

This sacrificial act of giving beyond our regular Sunday morning tithes could be the gift that transforms the capacity of the ADNE for mission and ministry here, and it will mean a lot to our new Bishop and his new beginning. It will enact through us that sacrifical love at the center of God’s heart for us.

For Christ and His Gospel,

A blessed Christmas to you all from Sally and I,

Bishop Bill Murdoch

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