Light of Christ continues to shine throughout diocese • January 13 2020

Mass for Commemoration of Bishop Patrick Kelley’s Arrival in Virginia Is 60:1-6; Acts 2:42-47; Mt 18:15-20

The first reading today should sound very familiar. We heard it two weeks ago on the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, and this weekend we begin the celebration of our diocese and the light of Christ manifested to the state of Virginia through it.

Our mission statement calls for us to be a diocese of “love, life, justice and peace.” It calls us to that through “Word, Worship, Community and Service.” For two centuries, the Church in our diocese has been a beacon of hope in Virginia. Our worship of God in word and sacrifice has led us to service in our communities.

Although the geographic area of the diocese has changed, that mission, to bring the light of Christ to Virginia, has continued in every region. The Lord has shone upon us and his glory has appeared over the entire Commonwealth.

I’ve been blessed to have lived in many parts of the diocese: Northern Virginia (when it was still part of the diocese), the New River Valley when I was in college, the Shenandoah Valley, Southwest Virginia and Richmond with my wife and family. We visit family in Roanoke and Harrisonburg often and visit Virginia Beach at least twice a year.

Before I retired, my full-time paying job took me to every area of the diocese where a correctional facility is located. I have seen the light of Christ shine brightly in the diocese and continue to see it shine from the coast to the cities to the mountains.

It shines brightly throughout the diocese in hospitals, schools, diocesan-wide programs and regional programs involving individual parishes like the migrant ministry at Star of the Sea or ecumenical ministries like MCEF (Mechanicsville Churches Emergency Functions); Friends of the Homeless in Richmond, the RAM Ministry (Roanoke Area Ministries) for the homeless in Roanoke, the Health Wagon in far Southwest Virginia, Project WITH (Outreach to Families of the Incarcerated) in Harrisonburg and many other ministries throughout the diocese.

The light of Christ shines not only within the diocese, but to people of Haiti through our twinning programs with the parishes in the Diocese of Hinche. While we don’t come close to the standard set in the early Church where Christians held everything in common and took care of each other’s needs, we do share the light of Christ with others and we do tend to the needs of others.

In a diocese this vast, starting on the Eastern Shore and Virginia Beach and stretching to a point further west than Detroit, there are bound to be differences. When those differences have been overcome or embraced and celebrated, that beacon of hope has shone even brighter.

When this happens, we embrace the universality of the Church and become a greater sign of God’s presence in our world. When this happens, the hungry are fed, the homeless find shelter, those with needs have them met.

We begin this bicentennial celebration just two weeks after the celebration of Jesus’ manifestation to the Gentiles. Just as we celebrated the star’s manifestation of the presence of a new king to the Magi, the diocese celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the Commonwealth of Virginia through us and those who have gone before us. We also celebrate those who will come after us and continue to shine the light of Christ throughout the diocese.

Deacon Christopher Colville serves at Church of the Redeemer, Mechanicsville.

Scroll to Top