Hi, this is Bishop Brian, and as we are still in the midst of this Christmas season, I thought this might be a good time to reflect back on 2020. As the pandemic began in March and continued on, at some point I wrote to you, and said that my pledge was to be in touch with the diocese every other Wednesday until this pandemic was over. That has involved a lot of letters, and also now a lot of video, just wanting to keep connected to you and to each other in parishes, with leadership, with clergy, with all of us staying connected in a time when we have been dispersed and separated from each other physically. It’s been a trying year. It’s been a challenging year.
But it’s also been a year when we’ve learned many things. Along with how to make use of technology, people have continued to work hard to pray together, to stay together, to keep connected with outreach and with service. We’ve ordained folk. We have called new clergy. We’ve celebrated not simply getting through, but also times of real joy, with weddings, with births, with baptisms, and we’ve grieved the loss of folks who’ve died, either because of COVID, or other illnesses, and that’s been challenging to grieve in ways that have stretched us, that we’ve not been able to gather in traditional ways for funerals as we typically do.
But I want you to know as we enter into 2021 we do so as a diocese committed to staying connected. A theme for this convention will be about staying connected as communities in Christ. So we will continue to do this through technology, but also through all kinds of other traditional means of phone calls and letters and being socially distanced outside as that becomes safe again, and know that we will continue to do that as God’s people here.
In this Christmas season, for the first time in many, many years, we had a white Christmas in East Tennessee. So as we went to bed Christmas Eve into Christmas morning there was a sense of peace and sense of calm. But we also woke up on Christmas Day knowing of the bombing in Nashville, and in many ways that right there holds the contrast of 2020. There are places of grace, places of comfort, places of joy, and also places of unspeakable violence, unspeakable grief that maybe could overwhelm us. My hope is that we lean even more this Christmas season into the belief that Jesus is the prince of peace come to bring us a different kind of peace, a deep and lasting peace that takes place and lodges in the heart, lodges in communities, and neighborhoods, and in our structures, that a true peace given to us by the Christ will grow in this, in our communities in 2021.
It’s a joy to be your bishop. It’s a joy to serve with you. I hope 2021 will be a time of deep renewal for all of us, and know that we continue to be the people of God in East Tennessee. Across this state, we’re working with Bishop John and Bishop Phoebe and their folk. Together, let us pray for a deep sense of peace for all.