The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
In this week leading up to the celebration of the birth of our Saviour we cannot turn away from the continuing turbulence and unbridled violence ravaging our world.
The destruction of and slaughter in Aleppo has been vividly shown around the world, and we weep for those innocent lives lost, for the seemingly senseless acts of violence, especially against those who are attempting to help. We have heard from the Presbyterian Church in Aleppo that schools and hospitals are being targeted, that bombs and missiles continue to rain down.
The Christmas market attack in Berlin has again shaken Germany while in Zurich a gunman opened fire in a mosque where people were at prayer. The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara is but one of several violent incidents to have hit Turkey in recent days.
It appears that we continue to walk in darkness, desperately seeking answers and searching for hope. But that hope has come—the light shines. And we need look no further than Aleppo to see it. Rev. Ibrahim of the Presbyterian Church says,
In this Christmas season, we promise to continue our ministry as a Synod and as a church to be a sign of hope in this despairing time. We will try to plant joy into the life of the society. We will never cease to dedicate our effort to bring love and peace into the city of Aleppo.
Sisters and brothers, even as we mourn the dead, let us embrace this spirit shining from Aleppo—the same spirit that first came to us through a baby born in Bethlehem.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We pray for those killed and injured in this latest round of violence and for their loved ones.
We pray for those who work to assist the victims, for those who advocate for justice, reconciliation and peace.
We pray for a just peace to come to our world, especially to those areas beset by continuing violence.
We pray that governments prioritize peacemaking and reconstruction over violence and destruction.
We pray that care is given to the marginalized and poor and that all people are recognized as God’s children instead of labeled as “other.”
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.