In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. —Luke 2:1-7 (NRSV)
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
In this last week of Advent we prepare ourselves to receive hope and to be assured that despite all the difficult situations there is indeed a hope that we can wait for.
The birth of Jesus Christ gives us encouraging insights:
First, Jesus was born in a difficult context and challenging surroundings. Just as we feel stuck in situations of hatred and anger and injustice around the world, we are reminded that Jesus’ situation was not a better one. Jesus’ life was immediately under threat from Herod’s plot. And still the hope came in the midst of suffering and beyond the expected. The Jesus story affirms to us that difficult situations do not have the final word but instead hope does.
Our mission as the World Communion of Reformed Churches is to keep pointing to injustices and keep focused on hope and commit ourselves for a better world. Thus we move in hope for a more just world.
We remember in hope our commitment in the Wittenberg Witness for a renewed imagining of what being the church in communion could mean—for our world, in our time and with other churches:
We need new imagination to dream of a different world, a world where justice, peace and reconciliation prevail. We need new imagination to practice spiritualities of resistance and prophetic vision, spiritualities in service of life, spiritualities formed by the mission of God.
Second, hope does not come only with big sizes nor from the usual places. Hope came from a child, in an unexpected place, perhaps even in the least expected. The Jesus story teaches us to look in unexpected places, even when we feel we are weak and small. Even when we think that we cannot make a difference in front of the world powers. Our strength is renewed with the baby Jesus, and our imagination is triggered by all possibilities that the Jesus story opens to us.
We celebrate Christmas this year surrounded with stories of pain and injustice around the world and even in Bethlehem—in the place where the promise for peace and hope started.
At this Christmas, we wish you a hopeful spirit where our eyes remain focused on the Child of the manger and our imagination is renewed with the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. We join hands as we grow together in communion and continue to hear the voices of those who struggle around us where we commit ourselves to stand in their shoes and to be their voice.
Have a blessed Christmas,
Rev. Najla Kassab
President, World Communion of Reformed Churches