I continue to struggle to understand the Presiding Bishop’s reluctance to mention Jesus in her feast day messages. I have written previously on her Christological murkiness at Eastertide and her 2013 Christmas communique continues a trend in which she fails to mention Our Savior in messages around feasts that center on the saving action of Christ.
Whether it is time to consider the Incarnation or the Resurrection, the Presiding Bishop is consistent in her unwillingness to mention the person in whom our whole faith and hope rests. It takes some effort to avoid using the name of Jesus in an Easter or Christmas message – multiple times.
I offer below the word cloud of her Christmas message for 2013. Her reference to the name of Christ or even God is striking only in its consistent omission from her messages. At this point, with repeated messages that omit reference to Christ, it can only seem intentional that she not actually reference the singular significance of the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ let alone his saving action.
A message that centers on authority and shoulders must be significant to some small portion of our membership yet the message most needed in these times is for the unique and holy condescension of God’s indwelling among his people in the person of his Son.
There are some number who might welcome this vagueness on the part of the Presiding Bishop to fail to acknowledge the personhood and uniqueness of Christ. I am not among them. Our inability to claim the wholeness of God’s saving action in the person of Christ is a missed opportunity.
This kind of theological opacity might be a virtue to a sliver of our membership but it is an unfortunate avoidance of the heart of the Gospel. The vagueness of the message communicates an unwillingness to proclaim the basic tenets of the faith (this is different from whether she believes them which I believe she does). Her opacity evinces a lack of comfort with the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and borders on gnosticism.
I use the term gnosticism as her message is so densely worded as to be accessible only to those with an inside knowledge of contemporary theological language. I long for a leader with clarity who can articulate the abiding power of the Incarnation such that all who hear might be drawn the the Living Christ.
One can only read, contrast, and lament the difference between the Presiding Bishop’s message and the Christological core of the Pope’s recent encyclical, Lumen Fidei, in which he boldly proclaims Christ, faith, and God.
The Pope’s recent selection as Time magazine’s Man of the Year is not based on his lack of clarity but rather on his emphasis on the Gospel of Christ’s love. Yet, one can see above that his message is not in spite of the uniqueness and decisiveness of Christ but because of that very reality that the Presiding Bishop seems reluctant to proclaim in these feast day messages.