A Blessed Christmas


The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them light has shined.

                                      —Isaiah 9:2

By Abagail Nelson

This week we celebrate that Christ came among us and is among us, a gift from God to us: Pure Love. As the world offers us pale substitutes for Love often wrapped up in sentimentalism or consumerism, confusing miracles with magic, we as people of faith follow a prophetic litany of witnesses to a message that promises a profound transformation to reorder whole systems. God’s Love becomes a bright awesome thing that cracks the heavens with brilliant light, speaks with the thunder of angels, and demands of us that lifelong wrenching commitment to nurture, protect, and worship that we know in the presence of a small infant. God entrusts us quite simply with this baby’s own extraordinary vulnerability, and in so doing calls us into being as co-facilitators for His work among us. And we become disciples. 

I just returned this week from a visit to El Salvador where discipleship flows out and offers light to those soaked in violence and fear. In the very same places ravaged by legacies of poverty, injustice, civil war, earthquakes, hurricanes, drugs and gang violence, there also exists the legacy of faithful. People tenaciously work with the church in El Salvador, building strong houses and safe spaces. Providing healthful and life giving programs, they tell their stories, and honor their fallen.

I went to attend the wedding of Claudia and Eliseo in one such community supported by Episcopal Relief & Development: a health promoter who has helped her neighbors through many pregnancies and improved nutrition habits, and an agriculturalist who has physically replanted deforested lands and nurtured abundant fruit and hard woods for their community’s benefit. I went to be together with all who were there- and in Spirit, honor the many friends, church leaders, supporters, and volunteers who contributed to their union.

And the people who walked in darkness… become as light to one another.

May that light shine in all our hearts through this Season and beyond. Have a blessed Christmas. 


Abagail Nelson is Sr. Vice President for Programs with Episcopal Relief & Development.



Photos: Top left,  Raphael 'Study for the Painting 'Madonna del Pesce''.  Middle, 'Christmas wreath'- Observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, collected over the span of five weeks leading up to Christmas. Bottom, Women participants involved in integrated programs in El Salvador.

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