The pandemic, political division, wildfires, remnants of racism and civil unrest during 2020 have left many Oregonians feeling, as the prophet Isaiah put it, that they have walked in darkness.

“But it is precisely in the midst of all this that we have seen a great light, a light that now has shown upon all of us,” Archbishop Alexander Sample said during Christmas midnight Mass at Portland’s St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He told the socially distanced congregation, as well as more than 2,000 livestream viewers, that the message to the shepherds of Bethlehem two millennia ago is the same for here and now: Do not be afraid. Today a savior has been born.

“In this is our entire hope,” the archbishop said. “Our hope is in Christ, who comes as a light shining in the darkness. Our hope is in no one and nothing else.”

Jesus, the archbishop said, brings life, salvation, hope, justice, courage and the certainty of God’s love.

“Do we really believe this?” the archbishop asked. “And not just on this night, but tomorrow and next week and in the weeks, months and years ahead?”

He reminded those on hand and those viewing via Facebook that the world as we know it is passing away.

“But we have a home in heaven being prepared for us by the one who tonight lies in a manger, in a stable, shivering in the cold of the night,” he said.

The world will never be the same because of Jesus’ coming, the archbishop explained, asking listeners if they will allow their lives to be utterly changed by an encounter with the Lord. His prayer for the new year, and always, he said, is that people meet Jesus deeply and that he transform them into the disciples needed today.