Christmas message: Joy, peace, hope amid COVID challenges
LWF President urges Christians to celebrate the baby in Bethlehem as “God of hope and Prince of peace”
(LWI) - In a Christmas message to the worldwide communion of churches, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa urges believers “to trust anew in the power of the Creator who came down to earth to share our human experience.” Recalling the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for so many individuals and families, he prays for the gifts of joy, peace and hope upon all those celebrating the birth of the Christ child.
In the message, entitled ‘Hope born in a manger’, the LWF leader acknowledged “how difficult it is to experience joy and peace in these uncertain times,” when new variants of the virus continue to threaten communities and many livelihoods have been lost. He notes in particular the rise in numbers of people struggling with mental health issues and the increase in cases of femicide and domestic violence due to last year’s lockdowns.
But the archbishop also notes that the limitations on physical contact have “forced us to reconsider our priorities,” offering many people “more time for prayer, meditation or more sustainable ways of living.” The restrictions, he said, have “taught us to be kinder, less self-centered and a little more attentive to our neighbors in need.”
As we gather around the manger to celebrate the birth of the baby in Bethlehem, we are reminded that this child laying in a manger is also the God of hope and the Prince of peace.
Basing his short reflection on the words of the Apostle Paul to the Romans (15:13), LWF president Musa reminds us that “God is the source of all hope” and that our task is to “trust in the power of the Holy Spirit” to transform us from within. The next Assembly, to be held in Krakow, Poland in 2023, he wrote, will further develop these themes with its focus on ‘One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’.
As Christians gather around the manger to celebrate the birth of the baby in Bethlehem, the archbishop says, “we are reminded that this child laying in a manger is also the God of hope and the Prince of peace.” Joining with the angels in praying for peace on earth, the message concludes, “let us redouble our own efforts to bring reconciliation, dignity and hope for all people in our world today.”