Hope will be born where perseverance in witness is lived

The world is surrounded by worries, anxiety, uncertainties, and the language of war, division, and enmity. We wonder how we will celebrate today with all the challenges and troubles.

If we look at the Christmas story, we are surprised that it has a similar context. We recognize how troubled Mary was when the angel Gabriel told her, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:26). Or Joseph, her husband, as the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Or remember Zechariah, who was worried as the angel Gabriel appeared to him and said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” (Luke 1:13). Or the “shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night, and an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will come to all the people’” (Luke 2:8–10).

Despite all their worries, Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, and the shepherds did not succumb to their worries but persevered in their witness and participated in the hope story. They focused on waiting for the birth of the child, and they had strength and never gave up hope, holding on to the resilience of life and its fullness and dignity that are claimed by God. Emmanuel is with us, changes our worries to confidence and opens our eyes to the reality that our strength comes from above and will inspire our witness, and no one can steal our hope.

The Christmas story provides strength in the midst of our weakness, in a manger away from home. It is the story where fear does not have the last word, but joy does with the new beginning: a Savior is born. It is the story where our eyes are turned away from our fears to assurance that we are not alone, as we hear the words addressed to Mary by the Angel: “Rejoice! The Lord has granted you a great favor. God is with you!” (Luke 1:28)

As we struggle today with continued injustice around the world and recognize that little is changing the world, we might feel helpless and discouraged. But when we focus on our perseverance in our witness, we recognize hope.

As a communion, we live in hope and trust that the Lord will continue to send us as a community ready to pitch our tent wherever it hurts, wherever the dignity of God’s people is stepped on, and where people are far from fullness of life.

We continue to stand in hope for all who have the courage to witness, whether in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, South Korea, Sudan, or many other areas around the Communion. Their witness brings hope, and we are inspired by their stand and commit ourselves for their journey.

We continue to celebrate Christmas in our witness and perseverance as we recognize anew that God is with us.

Have a joyful Christmas.

—President Najla Kassab

Image by Sliman Mansour, a Palestinian artist known for his vivid and powerful paintings that showcase the beauty and resilience of Palestinian culture. See more of his art here: slimanmansour.com.

Comments are closed.