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A Christmas Season Message from Bishop Scott J. Jones: Turning Points

December 29, 2023

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

Turning points mark major transitions in our lives. Sometimes they are personal. When I think about my life, key turning points have included graduations, marriage, ordination and moves to new places of service. Most recently, my wife Mary Lou and I have moved to Dallas, Texas and bought a home we hope to live in for many years to come. The meaning and purpose of this turning point was clearly related to my retirement from my previous denomination and my transition to serving as a bishop in the Global Methodist Church. It also brought us closer to children and grandchildren.

Other turning points affect large numbers of people and shape events for centuries. The adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, was a turning point where a new nation was formed, and the history of North America was changed. The meaning and purpose of the founding of The United States of America was encapsulated in the words of the Declaration. They were aspirational because not all people were free right away. Slavery was still a reality and equality for women took many more years, but the pursuit of freedom and equality became a goal that has shaped the last 247 years.

The turning point affecting the entire world was the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. It is so significant that human beings measure time by that event. It is now the Year of our Lord (anno domini) 2023. We count everything that happened before the first Christmas as occurring Before Christ (BC) and everything after as occurring since that event.

That is why the celebration of Christmas is so important! It marks the turning point in the history of creation. The God who created the world did not abandon it but acted decisively to save it. In Jesus’ birth the very Godhead took on human form. As Charles Wesley said in a hymn:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that we no more may die
Born to raise us from the earth
Born to give us second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ’s birth, death and resurrection changed the relationship between humanity and God. God acted to create a new way to be reconciled to him and to solve the sinful problems into which we had fallen. Christ came to give us second birth.

My family has been getting ready for this Christmas season ever since Thanksgiving. We have decorated the house, put up a tree, bought presents and made travel plans to gather. But the most important preparation for Christmas is not that kind of material activity. The spiritual preparation for Christmas is the preparation of our hearts to draw closer to Christ. The real question for each of us is this: Will we love God more fully on January 5, the last day of the Christmas season, than we do today? And will we continue to grow in grace as his faithful and obedient disciples every day thereafter?

This holy season is a time to ponder anew what God has done for us in Christ. The second person of the Trinity took on human flesh and lived, died, and rose for us and for our salvation.

What will be our response? He has called us to be disciples who worship passionately, love extravagantly and witness boldly. We in the Global Methodist Church have been blessed with the formation of a new expression of the Methodist movement. God is opening doors for new ministries and new ways of following Jesus. After praying and working for revival for 35 years, I am now living it. I have experienced a turning point.

May this Christmas season mark a turning point in each of our personal lives so that we are more fully devoted followers of Christ because of this holy season and all that it means in our lives.

Bishop Scott J. Jones is an episcopal leader in the Global Methodist Church.

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