“To let our light shine and become shalom makers is such a challenging task,” said President Najla Kassab in her address to the 2017 meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
“Many times people perceive peace—shalom—as merely the absence of war or troubles,” she said. “Some understand peace as keeping the status quo, no problems and all is smooth. On the contrary, peace is linked to the well-being of the people, flowing out of God’s will for all to have ‘fullness of life.’
“To work towards shalom is to have our eyes focused on human dignity. That is why when we work for justice and peace we could get upset and angry and strive to do something to overcome all pain and restore the dignity of the people. We become concerned with living out God’s will for God’s people and to defend them with all that this commitment requires.”
As a Communion called to justice, we must be “actively involved through discerning, confessing, witnessing and being reformed together,” she said. “Discerning the signs of the times is a vital step towards the journey in living up to our Reformed identity where we are invited to confess and witness and be shaped anew as a Communion in the hands of God.
“Discerning the signs of the times urges us to hold responsibility and get involved even when that means pronouncing statements that do not sound popular or favoured in the eyes of many,” said Kassab.
“As a Communion, we are challenged to take the risk and be a sign of hope, even if in small steps of crossing boundaries, challenging all cultures of fear that separate us and create borders,” she said. “We are the people of hope, not because we trust that we will change policies, but rather because we stand as a paradigm of hope.”
She went on to detail many of the places and ways in which the WCRC is active in working for justice and bringing hope, including the Korean Peninsula, Colombia, South Sudan and the Middle East.
Kassab noted the WCRC Strategic Plan is designed to focus the work of the organization. An extensive process has been engaged in over the past year to develop an implementation plan to achieve the goals contained within the plan.
“The evaluation of the work of the Strategic Plan will not be measured by the amount of activities, but rather what impact these activities create on the life of the Communion and the world around us,” she said, raising up an official visit to churches in Iraq as an example that brought not only hope but concrete support.
She concluded her address with a tribute to “two friends who taught us a lot about being committed, zealous, Reformed servants of the Lord,” Robina Winbush and Peter Borgdorff, both of whom have passed away since the last Executive Committee meeting.
“These two precious, strong voices challenged us always to secure the free space in this Communion, the freedom to speak and the power to be transparent and speak for the struggle,” she said. “We cannot take life for granted, but rather it is time to rise, shine and live peace and justice.”