It is with joy and hope that we have received the news about the speeches of the presidents of the United States of America and Cuba, who two days ago simultaneously announced the restoration of diplomatic relationships between the two countries, frozen for more than 50 years.
In addition, we acknowledge the important role played by Pope Francis I in the 18 month-long process of negotiations that culminated with these official statements from both presidents on behalf of their respective governments. This experience confirms how much we can do as churches and worldwide communions when we take responsibility for our mission to reconcile and when we commit ourselves as agents for dialogue and peace.
In the spirit that inspires us this Advent season, we affirm how joyfully we have been walking together with many member churches of our Reformed family–including the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba and Presbyterian Church (USA)–and those many who have worked and prayed together for years to reach this point of understanding.
We welcome the opportunities opened by this new way of approach between two neighbours, the beginning of breaking down the barriers that separated them, and we also have hope for the impact that this decision will have for the Cuban community living in the United States.
We celebrate that close to Christmas and amidst Hanukkah, the families of Allan Gross, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Lavañino and Gerardo Hernández are coming together after many years of separation.
We are grateful for new opportunities and new challenges to come. Therefore, we share our joy echoing the words of Zacharias when he prophesized:
“…Because of the loving mercies of our God, by which the dawn from heaven has come to us, To give light to those in dark places, and in the shade of death, so that our feet may be guided into the way of peace.” –Luke 1:78-79
We also offer this prayer:
God of peace, justice and reconciliation,
We come before you in thanksgiving for your gifts as a worldwide family. We affirm the presence of your Spirit every time joy and justice prevail. We celebrate that new things are happening and steps to build bridges and tear down walls continue to witness to the hope that Advent bring. For these things we are thankful, too.
Thanks for bringing the Cuban and American people closer. Thanks for bringing happiness to families who have been suffering by being separated from the ones they love. Thanks for showing us in concrete ways what “Emmanuel, God among us” means.
We ask for wisdom leading these two neighbour countries to move forward in the long journey they have ahead to complete the work just begun.
In Jesus´s name we pray, Amen.
executive secretary for justice