Glory to God in heaven, and peace on earth!
We are about to enter the season of Advent; a time of waiting for the Messiah, the one who brings joy and peace. When I think about the coming Christmas season, I am reminded Isaiah’s words, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
Whatever darkness the prophet Isaiah perceived, whether he was thinking about communal or individual despair, he proclaimed the fact that Yahweh led people into the light, gave them victory, and liberated them from bondage. And this was to be accomplished by the gift of the ultimate ruler — a wonderful counsellor, the mighty God, the eternal Father and Prince of Peace.
These words of the Hebrew prophet, spoken some eight hundred years before Jesus was born, closely resonate with the message of the angel “Your saviour is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord”.
According to Saint Luke (Luke 2: 14), the birth of Jesus Christ has a twofold meaning: glory to God in heaven and peace on earth among those whom God favours.
For the last two millennia Christians have been praising and glorifying God for the wonderful gift of the Christ child; Incarnated one, Jesus, which in Hebrew means “God saves”.
But sadly many are still experiencing wars and conflicts; witnessing incredible destruction of environments caused by human greed; condoning discrimination against race, gender, religion and sexual orientation, and living with indifference towards people whose need for safety is so great that they leave their homes and become refugees and boat people and asylum seekers.
How do we reconcile these conflicting perceptions? How do we bear witness to the truth of the Christmas message “Peace on earth among those whom God favours” in our troubled world?
In November I attended a special service, ‘Prayers of lament and support for all who have been abused”. The service was organised by Uniting Churches together with Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA). This deeply moving service was a small step toward bringing peace to those who have been abused. For me it was also a clear witness of how Christ’s peace can become a reality among those whom God favours, that is, those who turn to God for comfort and insight into how they can experience peace in their lives.
Once again this Christmas we join with two thousand churches from nineteen denominations in the Act for Peace. The simple action of sharing through the Christmas Bowl stands us alongside the fifty million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people in the world. And in this way we glorify God who is compassionate to the lost, the hungry, the abused and the stranger.
It is my deep joy to bring you special Christmas greetings. It is my exceptional privilege to extend the blessing of God to you and all your family and friends in this time of joy and peace.
May the spirit of Christmas bring you a loving and blessed festive time. And may we never cease to pray for a time in which this blessing will be shared with our waiting world: a time when no families experience domestic violence, no child is abused, no one is discriminated against or excluded from hearing the good news — the wonderful, joyous news, our Savior, the Prince of Peace is born to us!
Rev. Myung Hwa Park, Moderator