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Greetings, Diocese of Olympia and all who may be watching, and most especially on this day, Merry Christmas to all of you.

I hope you all are with those you love and who love you, but if you can’t be with them, I hope you will make connections with them today in some way.

I know this can be for many, a season of wild extremes. For some, the most joyous and happy time of the year, and for some, the lowest and most depressing. If that is happening to you, know that this shall pass and know that Jesus, who is born this day, is as every bit right there with you and for you as he is for anybody. For as Christians, we believe that that is the greatest gift ever, and it’s one equally and fully given to each and every person. That is your gift, too.

I always use this message each year to remind you that Christmas is a season, not just a day. Christmas in a real sense, starts today, but runs for 12 more days, right up Epiphany. This was the drama that was read on Christmas Eve, but in real life, it played out over days and weeks and months, just as our lives do.

Like so many of our holidays, the secular world will celebrate today and then cast the Christmas trees on the corner, pack up the decorations, get back to normal, if you will, right when we might say we’re just getting started. In the Hallmark calendar, Advent has become what is our Christmas and Christmas has really, I hate to say it, been diminished to one day and in most quarters completely lost the original meaning.

My prayer for you is whether you decide to celebrate just today and then by the evening or tomorrow, erase all signs of Christmas, or if you actually try to ride out the whole season with those few of us that valiantly are trying to reclaim it, in either case, that you stop at some point or remind those around you, remind yourself what this day is all about, what it celebrates, what it points to, what it hopes for. We need this message now more than ever. Christmas begins today.

Merry Christmas. Blessings to each and every one of you.

Christmas 2021: A Message from Bishop Rickel

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