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His Episcopal motto "Dominus illuminatio mea" (The Lord is my light) is taken from the opening words of Psalm 27 and is the used by the University of Oxford as its motto. It reminds us that only in Christ do we have the light of salvation. In the light of Christ, we shall not be afraid of anything.
The Right Reverend William Bower, SSC was elected to be the bishop suffragan of the Diocese of the West of the Anglican Church in America at its Synod in September 2020 and was consecrated on July 10, 2021. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1964, where he attended grade school through high school. It was during this period that he was a member of the Grammy A ward winning Atlanta Boy Choir and was part of a student exchange program with the Vienna Boys Choir. In his teen years he relocated with his family to the Los Angeles area where he finished high school and met the love of his life, Sabrina Thai, whom he married in 1984.
He attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) on an Army scholarship and received a Reserve commission in 1985. In 1986 he founded Contemporary Information Corporation, a data company, in Santa Clarita, California. As a bi-vocational clergyman, he continues to work full time at his secular employment as well as being engaged in pastoral ministry.
After being ordained both deacon and priest in a noncanonical old calendar Orthodox jurisdiction, Bishop Bower moved his congregation into the Orthodox Church in America. In 1997 he completed the Late Vocations Program and was ordained a deacon by Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald). He attended St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary from 1997 - 2000. He was incardinated in the Anglican Church in America in July of 2000 and assigned to St. Mary of the Angels parish in Hollywood, California, where he participated in the St. Mary's Theological College. In 2002 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop James Gordon Stewart. In 2001 Bishop Bower began a degree by research program with the University of Oxford, and in 2013 was awarded the degree of Master of Philosophy specializing in Theology.
Bishop Bower was the founding rector of the parish of St. Columba in Lancaster, California which he served from 2002-2013. From 2014 until 2019 he assisted at two Anglican parishes in Atlanta, Georgia. In July 2019 he began filling in at St. Mary of the Angels parish and was assigned as Locum Tenens in August of that year. He has faithfully served St. Mary of the Angels for two years providing pastoral leadership to guide the parish through a crisis period into stability including finding and training a permanent parish priest.
He has served as Canon to the Ordinary for three diocesan bishops, has been a member of almost every diocesan committee, and is a long-term member of the Societas Sanctae Crucis (Society of the Holy Cross).
Bishop Bower and his wife Sabrina have four adult children, Rebecca, Ian, Catherine, and Julia. When not engaged by secular or church work, they enjoy spending time boating in coastal South Carolina or on the Suwannee River in Florida.
Peace be with you!
Beloved we have now reached the celebration of one of two of the most powerful and important events in human history. For as Christians, we celebrate the 2022nd (or there abouts) anniversary of the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. We commonly call this feast Christmas, a sort of combination of the words Christ and Mass as it is at Christmas that we celebrate the nativity of our Lord.
According to our ancient tradition, it is on the first Mass of Christmas that we hear the Last Gospel proclaimed as the primary Gospel lesson for the feast. It is none other than the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John and it begins much like the creation account in Genesis.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
No first-century Jew would have missed the importance of those words as they resound with the same quality as the start of the Torah. Here St. John is starting with a new beginning, a fresh start, to the sinful and fallen. Those timeless words also insert a new reality, as St. John proclaims that the Word of God, Jesus, was not only in the beginning with God, He was and is God.
And we confess this same understanding in our Creed whenever we say, “the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made”. Both the Creed and the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel are in complete harmony here. But what is not in harmony with either, is the secular notion of Christmas.
Whenever your non-religious or casual Christian friends and relatives think of Christmas, what is it that they imagine it is all about? Perhaps the holiday shows on television or the increased advertisements give us some insight. For these people it is about giving and receiving presents, about fancy and fattening foods, and sometimes about family and friends gathering. Some will go into the idea that Christmas is a sort of magical season filled with hope and joy. Certainly, these are not bad things, but Christmas is about so much more….
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
This is the story of God becoming a human being, in the form of a baby, which was born to die for the sin of humanity. He is born in darkness and cold to enter into the darkness and cold of the difficult moments of our life. He is laid in a manger, a place where animals would eat, to be the king born in humility. Why didn’t Jesus come to us in splendor and power? Certainly, that would more completely encapsulate the secular Christmas message of material excesses.
The Anglican author, C. S. Lewis explains it this way, “God entered into our human condition quietly, as a baby born in obscurity…because He had to slip covertly behind enemy lines.”
Consider the world of those first-century Jews. Their society and faith were under attack. There was the occupation by the Romans, the splintering into several factions of the Jewish religion, there was extreme classism and poverty. All of these things we have in our society today. The Messiah is born in the same city and of the same lineage as King David to confront an enemy – the ultimate enemy which is sin, death, and the devil.
The Christ Child comes into the world in relative obscurity compared to how earthly kings would arrive. Only the shepherds, the immediate family, and others aware of the prophesy would be able to recognize the importance of what happened that cold night so long ago. That God became a man, to restore mankind to God.
As Archbishop Fulton Sheen correctly wrote, “that the stable is now the tabernacle; the manger is now the ciborium; the straw is now the altar flowers; the swaddling bands are now the white species of bread—and that the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is living among us in that tabernacle just as really and truly as in the crib.”
Christmas is a time whenever we remember that God loves us so much that He came to us in the flesh and lived among us. If we individually were the only sinners that needed redemption, Christ would still come – He loves us that much.
One last thought… Many of us enjoy the lights of Christmas. Whether it be candlelight or the modern lights on our Christmas trees. I challenge you this Christmastide to each time whenever you behold these lights to reflect on this passage, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
Comprehend the light of Christ this Christmastide and rejoice that God loves you so much as to be found in the form of a man for our salvation, and for the life of the world. Embrace the love of God, and then share it with everyone you meet – and especially to the unlovable. To do so is to receive the greatest gift of Christmas.
Blessings and peace be with you and your families in the holy season of Christmas. May you each find joy in the love of Him who came to us in great humility.
The Right Reverend William Bower, SSC
Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS)
Bishop, Vicar General - US Military Chaplains
Anglican Church in America
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All Things are Possible with God. Matthew 19:26