Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Christmas Message From the Anglican Bishop In Jerusalem

No Anglicans aren't just Anglo-Saxons like me....the 9000 + strong congregation in Jerusalem are almost entirely Palestinian:

Christmas Message from Bishop Suheil

To all our friends across the world,

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Soon, we shall be celebrating the Feast of Christmas and whilst we must never forget the suffering of many in this Holy Land and in countless other places across the world, we must not neglect the importance of remembering that God gave us the most precious gift possible when He gave us Jesus. The very name, foretold by the Prophet Isaiah alerts us to this:

“The Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us).” (Isaiah ch.7 v.14)

Before the birth, many godly people had tried to convey information about God, but through Jesus we are informed directly of God’s love and care for His people together with the response He would have us give to Him.

When the angel spoke to the shepherds guarding their sheep during the night of Jesus’ birth, he told them not to be afraid because he brought them “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke ch.2 v.10). I hope that the angel’s words will convince each of us to respond with joy as we celebrate Christ’s birth and to explain to those around us the reason for our joy. The knowledge that God gave us this most precious gift is not to be kept as a secret but shared widely.

We know very well from St. Luke’s Gospel that the angel was soon joined by a “multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke ch.2 v.14) Therefore, we must work for peace to show our appreciation for God’s gift. It will begin first in our own hearts and homes, but it must not stop there. We need to work for peace across the world – God’s peace with God’s justice.

Naturally, we would very much appreciate your help to find true peace here in the Holy Land, so that Palestinian and Israeli, Christian, Moslem, and Jew can live side by side – with security and good will.

Your prayers and your action in reminding your governments of their involvement are most needed! We must keep the message of Christmas constantly before us rather than putting it away for another year. Again, if we return to St. Luke’s Gospel, we are reminded that the shepherds did not keep the message of their personal experience of seeing the Holy Child to themselves. Rather, “they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” (Luke ch.2 v.17)

Here and now is the opportunity for each of us to share more widely our Christian faith and thus prove that we allow God’s most precious gift to work within us to the full.

Let me take the opportunity to wish you peace and joy in your hearts and homes this Advent and Christmas, and every blessing for the New Year.

Naturally, if you feel able to visit with us in the near future, please know that your presence will be a real encouragement to all our people. You can be sure of a warm welcome here at St. George’s Cathedral, the mother church of our diocese. You can also follow in the footsteps of the shepherds and visit Bethlehem!

God bless you all!

Yours in His love,

+ Suheil Dawani
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

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