My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I send my warmest and most sincere greetings at this holy time of the year to all of you, and to all your families and loved ones!

This past year has been like no other, at least in my lifetime. Let me just say it — it’s been a tough year. This past year has brought us a global pandemic, severe political division, a reminder of the remnants of racism in our society, social unrest and even violence, and wildfires. So many lives lost, so many grieving families, so many lives severely disrupted, so much loss and suffering. Yes, many of us can’t wait to turn the page on this year and look forward to better things in 2021.

But as tough as this year has been, it has also been a year of great grace. We have witnessed the love and concern of people for one another. So many have been willing to make tremendous sacrifices to keep people safe and try and curb this global health crisis. Many people have shown heroic acts of kindness and generosity for those who have suffered. One need only point to the outpouring of love, prayers and financial support for those who lost their homes in the wildfires. Families have drawn closer to one another as we spend more time together in our homes. We have rediscovered our love for the Holy Eucharist, which we had possibly begun to take for granted.

In the midst of all of this, God has been ever present, walking with us. He never abandons us and He always brings good out of the evil and suffering which we endure, as long as we hold fast to Him and place all our trust in His mercy and love for us. We must not allow the Evil One, who seeks to exploit times like this, to rob us of our Christian joy and hope. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus!

As we welcome the Babe of Bethlehem and await the return of Jesus in glory, I invite all of us to open our hearts and our homes to the Divine Savior in a way that surpasses how we may have done this in the past. Jesus came to save us from evil, sin and death. We must never lose sight of the real meaning of the Gospel: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

We don’t know what the year 2021 will bring. What we do know is that God is with us, working His marvelous plan of redemption. Place all your trust in Him, not in the world. We sang during Advent the ancient hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” Emmanuel — a name which means “God is with us.”

I wish all of you a most blessed celebration of the Christmas feast. You are all in my heart and prayers. Please pray for me.

In Christ the Newborn King,

Archbishop Alexander Sample