There was a time when I could hardly wait for Christmas Eve when the Advent carols would be over and we could sing out lustily "O Come All Ye Faithful." I still love to sing that carol and others, but in this modern age the Christmas music actually began weeks ago. We may sing of the twelve days of Christmas, but hardly anyone realizes the twelfth day comes at Epiphany. For most of us, long before the drummers start drumming, the music has ended and most of the decorations are packed away. In the secular world, the Christmas season comes to an end at New Years, effectively cutting off those last days of our Christmas celebration.

I lament the loss of those days, for we need all the celebration time we can get. In fact, if I had my way, I would make Christmas last even longer. This past year has been a rough one. We have had more than our share of natural disasters and the economic distress that haunts so many, accompanied by record unemployment, foreclosures and depression have hung heavy over us. And to top it all off, now the election debates are dominating the airwaves with rhetoric that can hardly be called uplifting. This Christmas I want a time out from all this so I can take some time to celebrate… for the full twelve days or even more.
 
In reality there is much to celebrate. Here in Pittsburgh, we are preparing to elect the next bishop for our diocese and although the uncertainty of who this will be is producing some anxieties, I believe the possibilities this brings is far more exciting. We will be ordaining several men and women in the coming year and that new blood will be a welcome infusion. Our major court battles have now ceased and although we are still in the midst of property negotiations, we are finding that after three plus years since the great split, we are not only still a viable diocese, but are getting stronger all the time. And most importantly, we are finding ways to coexist with our brothers and sisters with whom we still share this part of Pennsylvania, even though they chose a different path than we did.
 
It is this last note of celebration that I wish to lift up in my Christmas message for this year. Jesus came to this earth to bring some powerful gifts – forgiveness, love and grace. With all that has happened to us here in Pittsburgh, I believe that if we focus on those elements, we will find the peace of which the angels sing. This is true of everything we do in life but certainly it is important in our relationship with our fellow Anglicans. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world and to prepare ourselves to welcome our new bishop.
 
Each of us has only so much emotional energy. For many, far too much of that energy has been eaten up by the negative fallout caused by the split in our diocese. How great it would be if we could make this Christmas, 2011, a turning point for how we spend our energy.
 
I have ten more months with you and I pledge to do all I can to help us all to keep our eyes on these great gifts. I began this message with reciting some of the ills that have befallen us in 2011. Not all of these will melt away. There is still much work to do. But I believe we can make a difference in our spiritual health if we just focus on sharing that forgiveness, love and grace that Jesus brought into this world on that first Christmas long ago.
 
May God bless us all this Christmas, and let's not cut short our celebration.     
 
Bishop Price Signature
The Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Jr.
Bishop of Pittsburgh
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